Plan B – ill Manors

London rapper’s latest album isn’t actually an album. Confusion ensues.

Released: 23/07/2012 on Atlantic Records

Not being middle aged or a woman, I wasn’t very keen on Plan B’s previous album The Defamation of Strickland Banks. When I heard there was a new record on the way, I wasn’t bothered in the slightest. But then I heard the eponymous single, and was shocked. It was edgy, grimy, and vicious. That string section; need I say more? Perhaps the album was worth a shot after all.

These eleven tracks are in fact the soundtrack to Plan B’s first movie, also called ill Manors. To tie these two together, the album features clips of dialogue between some of the songs in order to provide some background. However, I find this distracting. It disrupts the flow between tracks and splinters the overall message of ill Manors. This is a shame, because the message is a profound and dark one. Plan B narrates the various tales of characters throughout the movie. We witness how a drug dealer is born and raised in a dead end life, the endless desperation of prostitution in order to make a living, and the brutal initiation of young boys in to a gang.

The latter of these is one instance when the dialogue does actually raise the track. On ‘Pity The Plight’, a teenager is lied to, pressured, and told how he has been betrayed by a comrade. The gang leaders throw him in to a wild fit of adolescent confusion and frustration until he snaps and stabs the betrayer on command. By the end of the song, you are left with the kind of lump in your throat that only a very powerful song can create. I can only imagine how the scene looks in the film. I’m not sure I even want to know.

It is hard to view this as an album, as each track is a completely different story. It is to Plan B’s credit that the only issue I can find with the album is the dialogue. I wish the time had been taken to create a version of the album without it, as it dilutes the strength of the heart-breaking songs. I would have no issue rating this album an 8 if it came like that. On another note, I think it will be interesting to see how material from this album will be mixed in with older songs during live performances. It’s not as if Strickland Banks and ill Manors have a similar feel to them. Only time will tell how Plan B does this, but until then, I’m going to listen to that string section again.

Turn On: ill Manors, Pity The Plight, Lost My Way

Turn Off: I Am The Narrator, Great Day For A Murder

UnderSong Rating
5/10 ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆