Album Review: Plan B - Ill Manors

7 August 2012 | 11:42 am | Tom Birts

His first two albums were very good indeed; but who needs Who Needs Action When You’ve Got Words when you’ve got this?

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Ben Drew's decision to favour rapping over the saccharine R&B he almost pursued has been vindicated twice already – debut Who Needs Actions When You've Got Words and follow-up The Defamation Of Strickland Banks were critical and commercial successes. ill Manors is a companion piece to this year's film of the same name (written and directed by Drew) and there is a cinematic quality to it as it ebbs and flows, dives into its various narratives and reveals its character and characters to the listener.

Eponymously-named first track is a post-dubstep rampage through the cause and effect of 2011's London riots, and as a statement of intent it's a fine way to start this monstrous record. By the time we reach half way and poet John Cooper Clarke on Pity The Plight, we realise why this doesn't sound like a UK hip hop album. This is London Calling, Never Mind The Bollocks..., The Specials It is a savage sonic reminder that Britons are still living in the good old bad old days. Great Day For A Murder is the Jam's News Of The World, in the year the newspaper shut down its presses in disgrace.

But ill Manors is not a straightforward condemnation of Britain today. It's a letter to an abusive partner, with all the pleading and pathos that comes with it. Drew isn't just singing about social change – he really wants it. This is the right record, from the right voice at the right time. His first two albums were very good indeed; but who needs Who Needs Action When You've Got Words when you've got this?