The genres “Hip-hop” and “musicals” are not fellows you expect to see sitting comfortably next to each other at the bar. But that’s what Plan B’s latest film, and soundtrack of the same name, ill Manors are proclaimed to be. An intoxicating mix of potent social commentary and grimy story-telling, ill Manors smacks you in the face like the burning heat from a crumbling set of council flats ablaze with riot-fire.
The full force of the album is truly felt when comparing this record to Plan B’s last blue-eyed soul concept album, 2010’s The Defamation of Strickland Banks. This, his third record, is wildly different, and marks a return to Plan B mastermind Ben Drew’s hoodie-wearing rapper roots.
The album is a potent mix of smouldering hip-hop built over a bed of whirring dubstep, rough’n’ready drum’n’bass and disorienting strings. Add to this the bleak story at the heart of the album, of a young kid born on the wrong side of the tracks, and his demise into drug dealing and violence before he’s even hit his twenties. The combined effect is a commanding and compelling record, which, when listened to has a visceral effect on the listener. Ben Drew’s vitriolic flow, the dark subject matter and the propulsive soundscape that accompanies the whole thing are felt physically, like the body shaking rumbling of bass.
In the final track on the album Drew asks rhetorically, “You can’t relate?”, before adding “Well, you can fuck off, can’t you, mate?” That about says it all. Plan B’s third album is an unapologetic, vitriolic and rhyme packed album that will leave you with your jaw on the ground and a rumbling in your head.