Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Plan B - iLL Manors

Plan B is back and his return is twofold - a return to the music scene after the success of 'Strickland Banks' but also a return to the hip hop of his earlier work, rather than the soul he's now known for.

Every story has two sides and iLL Manors is no exception. Musically, this is well produced - full of fire and aggression that match the lyrics. At its core is a string riff that's as tense as it is repetitive. This expands in the chorus to include a heavy bassline and powerful drums, over which Plan B spits out his lyrics.

However, it's here that things get dangerous. Lyrically this is a politically charged maelstrom - some may call it storytelling, others will call it a rant. Take a look at the middle eight which depicts the central message of the song:

"We've had it with you politicians
You bloody rich kids never listen
There's no such thing as broken Britain
We're just bloody broke in Britain"

Now here is not the place to discuss the political value of the lyrics, they're an opinion after all. And at the least a record this confrontational and passionate is a welcome change to the majority of generic beige pop that fills the charts. But a record this spiteful, one-sided and blinkered is a risky strategy - some will relate, some will be offended. And now he's a multi-millionaire musician, Plan B is arguably closer to the "little rich boys" he attacks in the chorus which is difficult to swallow, even though the lyrics of course relate to his past. Or is this an attack on rich boy politicians specifically? Certainly this is a record that poses questions, questions stereotypes but is sterotypically furious.

With iLL Manors, Plan B has created an impressive record that commendably has a political voice as well as a musical one. Yet rather than healing current economic situations, he succeeds only in reigniting class divisions. In the process, he's just as likely to lose as many fans as he is to gain.


Listen: iLL Manors is released on March 25th, with the new album available in May.