on 6 January 2007
It's dark. It's almost impossible to listen to in places. Yet, you cannot escape. It's almost a morbid fascination that forces you to listen as Plan B drags you into his raw, dark, unforgiving world. The guitar parts he plays bring an original sound to an over-crowded genre, and his delivery suits his lyrics perfectly. Each track is an experience, and the lightest track on the album, "Charmaine", leaves you breathless. Plan B has a real gift for story telling, and you will no doubt be hanging on every word if you make the right decision and buy this album. Quite possibly a modern classic.
British hip-hop is - and some could say always was - in dire straits. Never able to match America in quantity or quality of artists, we are left with a handful of visionaries; Dizzee Rascal, Mike Skinner (who's recent album is a joke), Skinnyman. Jamie T, Plan B's nearest contemporary, is another rap troubador with live instruments who moves much further into the realms of other music types than Plan B; Plan B, despite wielding a guitar, sticks more to traditional hip-hop.
The Eminem comparisons are legitimate; Plan B has the same rapping talent (not quite as great), the same vitriol and vicious rhyming, the same twisted sense of humour (right down the genital warts and small penis), and seems to aim to offend; for Eminem, the likes of Christopher Reeve have been his whipping boy. For Plan B, it's Jill Dando. There's even a song about his mother; although it's in sympathy for a boyfriend on drugs, rather than in hatred for herself being on drugs.
However, this does not detract from an impressive debut album. Plan B may not be as original - although there is originality here, which I will get to later - as Eminem is and was, but he is still witty, sharp and brilliant at what he does. Rapping often over his own instrumental samples, he is insulting, profane and wilfully offensive in the way that few rappers outside of Eminem really are.
The bursts of originality, however, show a classic artist in the making. His Britishness, and those urban vignettes, for one, is an advantage. While Eminem would step into his characters totally, Plan B will often sympathise - on 'Tough Love,' for example - or, on 'Charmaine,' allow himself to be victim of catastrophe. He also has his own causes to rant against, most importantly religion. On at least two tracks he rails against it - showing a surprising knowledge of religion itself, though, adding to Eminem's tradition of intelligent hatred. He also willingly plays against gangsta culture - opener 'Kidz' criticises the mentality of British teenagers, rap fans, who think, for example, that guns are cool - and on 'No More Eatin' he practically has a hardcore punk song on his hands.
All in all, there is enough originality and wit on this album for it be an excellent debut, and without even trying Plan B has wedged himself into the top level of British hip-hop. His sophomore effort, with any luck, will see him furthering his skills and uniqueness to his advantage.
on 21 July 2006
Ok, first off this cat has issues. Second, this CD is bangin. Sick, twisted, very tight lyrics and absolutely head nodding beats. One could make very favorable comparisons to established artists, but that would do a disservice to the CD, which is extremely original. So I won't. Anyway, great CD.
As an aside, hailing from the US, I hear A LOT of weak, uninspired hip hop. Tired beats, tired lyrics, tired everything. So it is truly refreshing to hear some originality and imagination coming from the UK. I've been listening to UK hip hop since the Silver Bullet/Gunshot/London Posse days, and it just keeps progressing and morphing in positive ways.
PS: There's still some very good music coming out of the US hip hop underground, by the way. But you have to look for it.
It's hard to imagine how brutal Plan B's actions might be. Because his words are haunting, shocking and very, very impressive. He's a rapper and he's got that indie touch to him, his acoustic guitar. "Mama" sticks in your head so much that it stays there for days. And debut single "No Good" creates that blend of Uk rap and indie music, it's wonderful to hear.
This is a great, great record. He has obviously had a tough childhood to say the least, but you can feel the passion, feel his heartache. Maybe that's down to the brilliant production, but I reckon the youngster is behind most of it. The actual track "Who Needs Actions When You've Got Words" is the perfect album closer. However tracks like "Charmaine" and "Missin' Links" bring down it's overall rating because they are a bit TOO much. A bit too scary.
It's a brutal, haunting record. Give it a listen, you'll either love it or hate it, but whatever you do, don't let your kids hear it.
on 28 April 2009
I bought this album three years ago, having caught Sick 2 Def live, and finding it to contain one of the most powerful and visual lyrics I'd heard in a long long time. The rest of Who Needs Actions was a bit different, more produced, with the acoustic element down in the mix, and all the better for that. The lyrics and the tunes are strong, and they work so well together.
Three years later the punchline to Charmaine still gives me judders, Tough Love confronts issues no one else seems to want to, while No More Eatin' must be one of the most heartfelt and violent tracks ever written. The relationship between his mother and her boyfriend, the relationship between him and his father, the death of a close friend... The album is emotional and honest. I love everything about it - and have been waiting impatiently for a real follow up.
Way back, I read an interview with Ben Drew where he mentioned a project all about a smackhead called David Frost. What's happened to it? Has the idea been shelved? For Plan B, what now? He's got far too much raw talent simply to disappear.
on 28 August 2006
First time I listened to this album I wasnt sure, jus flicked through the tracks heard some good guitar backing but never thought it was anything special, then i let it play through in my car and got instantly hooked, I realised he has some proper heartfelt lyrics that probably everyone can relate to but wishes they couldnt, its all about the 'dodgy' things in life personal and nationwide. Typical UK 'hip hop', 'urban' whatever you wanna call it. But he definately stands out because his lyrics are more 'realistic' and he puts all of his feeling into his tracks,such as track 13 'couldnt get along' the second to last verse you can hear his pain and his anger on all of his tracks he truly means what he has to say.
All fantastic tracks i wouldnt skip any of them now and it hasnt left my car stereo since. Definatly worth a purchase and make sure you listen to it im glad i did.
on 19 December 2013
I bought Ben's follow up album, The Defamation of Strickland Banks, first and thought it was absolutely brilliant. I didn't want to be dissapointed by buying this one so avoided it for a while, but then gave in and went for it.
Wish I hadn't! Whilst there is no doubt Ben is a a very talented writer and producer, this one just went too far with the language for me. I'm no prude, my fave genre's are punk and rock, but this is just swearing from almost start to finish.
Powerful stories and emotional subjects, but no, not for me.
If you do want a class album though, go get 'Strickland Banks'!
I have never really understood why kids (especially white kids) in London talk with West Indian accents when most of them have probably never even been there on holiday. Thats part of the reason I have always avoided the UK urban scene, I though hip-hop was about 'keeping it real' etc. not pretending to be someone you're not. That's why I should really hate this album but I don't because there's a real energy and originality to it that makes it a cut above the rest.
I bought this album after hearing the Epicman/Plan B track 'More is Enough' on Radio 1 one night. I was blown away by that track on the first listen and even though it's not included on this album I thought I'd get it anyway. Plan B clearly owes a lot to Eminem, his venomous style and ugly metaphors are very similar. His lyrical style is aggressive but intelligent and I like the fact that he criticises the violent youth gun culture of today and doesn't pretend he is a gansta like most rappers. He occasionally borrows lines from other rappers (untouchable like Elliot Ness?) but still sounds fresh and original because his sound is unpolished and raw. I particularly like the track 'Where Ya From', his words are thoughful and actually mean something unlike all the pointless pimps & ho's rubbish.
'More is Enough' is still my favourite Plan B track because I prefer it's ramped up tempo to the more traditional hip-hop beats on this album but the tight production and talent of this youngster make this album a winner.
Like this? Try: Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP
on 13 May 2013
First heard of plan b when his album "the defamation of strickland banks" was out, Wasnt overly fussed on his stuff at that point. Watched the film "ill manors" which was directed by plan b (great film, great soundtrack), I got the sound track to the film, really loved it, then i got this album and REALLY loved it.
Its nice to see a uk rapper that writes well thought out lyrics. Very dark, very raw songs, all very well recorded... some really spine tingling tracks on this album. Buy this album and support a talented UK artist who deserves to be successful.
on 13 March 2013
The language is shocking but it feels soooooooooooooooooooo real.
Ever wanted to get into the head of east end youf?
Want to understand how the London riots were in our psyche.