- Audio CD (23 July 2012)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Soundtrack
- Label: Atlantic
- ASIN: B007JLJO3W
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,735 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Ill Manors Soundtrack
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The third full-length album from Ben Drew, aka Plan B, and the first since The Defamation of Strickland Banks, which sparked his meteoric rise to fame. Ill Manors sees Plan B combining the lyrical depth of his first album with the soulful musicianship of his previous release to create what he describes as a "bass-line, soul, hip-hop" record. The album was preceded by the theatrical release of the accompanying full length motion picture Ill Manors, which Drew wrote and directed.
During the promotion for his million-selling The Defamation of Strickland Banks, Plan B (aka Ben Drew) regularly discussed his future return to hip hop’s gritty realism. Rumours swirled that his mooted follow-up, The Ballad of Belmarsh, would be self-released after his label 679 questioned its commerciality.
Whatever the truth, …Belmarsh was scrapped in favour of ill Manors, an unrelentingly bleak soundtrack to Drew's directorial debut of the same name. The film's been out for a while, but Drew only finished recording some of these songs two weeks before release. This album’s extended snatches of dialogue, heard out of context, only serve to make the listening experience harder.
Much has been written about the title track – although unreferenced in the film, it’s a visceral piece of modern-day protest. It bristles with energy, a stirring Shostakovich string sample ramping up the drama before an explosion of drum’n’bass takes the song in a bloodier, more violent direction.
It's followed by I Am the Narrator – the first song to be heard in the film – in which Drew describes the world we're about to enter: one of childhood drug dealers, racist attacks and prostitutes working to pay for heroin. It’s a world that Drew depicts with a cinematic eye for detail.
The excellent Drug Dealer tells of a nine-year-old boy attacked by a racist friend of his prostitute mum, while the claustrophobic The Runaway talks of “drugged-up girls dressed up like naughty tarts”. There are moments of salvation in Deepest Shame, but this is not an album dealing in light and shade. Even the usually chipper Labrinth produces Playing With Fire, with its chorus of “One day you'll learn that when you get burned it will be too late”.
On Lost My Way Drew sounds genuinely hopeless: “If you don't believe in something then you'll fall for anything,” he intones, more a sigh of frustration than a rallying cry. This sense of impotence is confirmed by closer Falling Down, a counterpoint to the energy of the opener. But perhaps that's the statement that Drew is making: no matter how hard people try to rail against something, reality has a way of bringing you back down.
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Top Customer Reviews
A live performance of Sick 2 Def hooked me, and ever since then I've loved everything he's done. Actions, Strickland Banks, even Paint it Blacker. Everything. I keep waiting for him to slip up, but he never seems to. And Ill Manors is possibly the best thing he's done to date.
The combo of soulful choruses and the rap is mesmerizing, and the lyrics! They're right up there with Immortal Technique imho. This is heartfelt storylines and political analysis seamlessly combined. The initiation rite in Playing with Fire recalls Dance with the Devil; Lost My Way continues the theme. The story of the Runaway is heartbreaking - and ironically perhaps even more visual in the lyric than in the film itself.
Great Day for a Murder looks at the press: 'Looking at the Sun'll make you go blind, just like people say; Cost you your sight as well as 30p a day.'
Ill Manors takes on the reasons for the riots without excusing them. 'Don't bloody give me that, I'll lose my temper; Who closed down the community centre? I killed time there, used to be a member; What'll I do now till September.'
The saddest line for me on the whole album, one from the beautiful Falling Down. 'I know that they can't knock me down as long as I keep falling.'
Effortless. Succinct. Clever. And why? Because he's sincere and passionate about what he does. Ill Manors is a triumph!
This is some gritty, socially conscious hip-hop. Think more Immortal Technique or The Roots rather than Lil' Wayne. And that is what surprised me. I didn't expect socially conscious hip-hop on the level of Immortal Technique or Lowkey. Lyrically, Ben Drew holds nothing back. He is a superb story teller, and his rhymes are amazing. He not only paints a picture of 'Broken Britain' (a term that he derides in the title track), but alludes to the structural forces in society that can be seen to have a hand in producing social ills such as addiction, prostitution and gangs. Foe example, the title track argues that spending cuts are affecting youths in our communities;
'Who closed down the community centre?
I kill time there used to be a member.
What will I do now until September?
School's out, rules out, get your bloody tools out
London's burning, I predict a riot'
The production is excellent. From strings to soulful choruses to haunting RZA style piano samples, it is creepy, gritty and paints a perfect auditory picture of the alleys of Forest Gate.
I haven't yet seen the film for which this album acts as a soundtrack of sorts, but I will be getting it at the earliest opportunity. The album doesn't suffer too much from including clips from the film, but it can make it even more desperate and hard to listen to.Read more ›
I was expecting a few tracks from this to be a bit more mainstream however from listening to the live performance from Radio 1 in Hackney it put this to the top of my 'to buy list'.
On first lisen the titular track (which I was in awe of when I first heard on Jools Holland) set it off a treat with angry sounding, clever lyrics over a fantastic orchestral number. Playing with Fire is a strong track, Deepest Shame will probably be the most succesful chart release but the track that had the most impact on me was Pity the Plight with the poetry of John Cooper Clarke and the quite frankly harrowing extract of a stabbing from the Ill Manors film which had the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. Live Once with Kano is back to the soulful sort of track I first expected to hear on the album before closing out with Falling Down, a slow psychadelic track which further shows off the diversity of this album.
All in all I couldn't recommend this highly enough. A UK grime/hip hop/soul hybrid with production values of the quality you'd get from the likes of Dr Dre. Superb.
The tone is set from the first track "Ill Manors", and only gets darker from there. The Song I found particularly dark is "Playing with Fire" Featuring Labrinth, as it tells how one of the characters first gets into a gang, and his initiation is pretty brutal and heart breaking. My favourite track is "Lost My Way" as the opening strings section reminds me of proper old school hip hop like Cypress Hill.
There is a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel with "Live Once" Featuring Kano which assures you things will be OK come tomorrow (if you're lucky).
As with Plan B's first album "Who Needs Actions When You Got Words" His ability to hit the nail on the head with his current social commentary is second to none. Add that to the fact that he is one of the very best rappers the UK has ever had and you get an excellent rap album.
I say rap album because that is what it is, please don't come into this album thinking that it's going to be the same soul style as "The Defamation of Strickland Banks" because you will be disappointed. This is Plan B expressing himself in another of his many ways, so just stick with it and listen to the words and you will realise how relevant this album is in today's society.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Insane soundtrack. Bass is unreal when played through speakers.Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
Good condition. Great price!
Bought this as a gift, as love it so much I didn't want to lend mine out.
First heard this album on a holiday in Tenerife. Totally amazing!Published 17 months ago by Amazon Customer