Plan B – Ill Manors

After the soul detour of The Defamation of Strickland Banks, Plan B (aka English rapper Ben Drew) puts his “street poet” hat back on for the soundtrack to his directorial debut, Ill Manors.

Aside from the slightly overworked title track, Drew sets his rhymes against a classic hip-hop backdrop of beats, strings and soul samples. Though the atmosphere is oppressive, both aurally and thematically, Plan B does the grim sonic landscape justice with his compelling, densely interwoven tales of casualties from his home estate, East London’s Forest Gate. Throughout, Drew breaks up his raspy flow with snatches of film dialogue, guest turns from the likes of contemporary Kano and punk luminary John Cooper Clarke, and his own arresting soul croon.

Full of dense wordplay and narrative detail, the one thing the album lacks is humour, a counter-weight to the pervasive gloom. Nonetheless, Ill Manors is a remarkable achievement.