Reviewed on 9 August 2012
Rated 8.5 out of 10
Key Track: ill Manors
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Rapper/Writer/Director Ben Drew aka Plan B, has always been willing to explore dark territories. From his music’s brutal take on drugs, murder and all things gritty on his 2006 debut, Who Needs Actions When You Got Words; to the tales of his wrongful imprisonment, Drew has a talent for depicting bleak characters in a forthright manner with incredible poise both in song and on film.
On Ill Manors – the soundtrack to Drew’s directorial debut – the 28-year-old continues his exploration into harsher realities but focuses the fierce intent of his previous records for an expose of sorts on what he describes as “David Cameron’s broken Britain.”
Saturated with political commentary that aims to not only bring to light the depravity present in modern-day society, but also to explain the reasons behind it as Drew analyses why events such as last year’s London riots came to fruition.
He does it without a hint of subtlety, with the notion of holding back a distant, if not non-existent thought. The title track grabs you by the throat and hits you in the face to ensure your attention is guaranteed, with a menacing string section creating an intensity that one won’t soon forget.
Thankfully, the soulful voice Plan B showcased on The Defamation of Strickland Banks hasn’t been shelved, with his vocals at their most brilliant on ‘Deepest Shame’ and ‘Playing with Fire’.
While those outside of Britain might struggle to relate to the subtext of ill Manors, nor being able to appreciate the film it’s meant to accompany – rather than getting lost in a haze of political fury, Drew instead uses his artistry – and the album format – to convey a potent social message.
- Corey Tonkin
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