Plan B:: Who Needs Actions When You Got Words (Album Review)
Hailing from the same label as The Streets comes a new voice from the streets of Britain. Plan B is 22 year old Ben Drew’s alter ego. This is his way of telling the kind of stories that you really hope aren’t reflective of youth culture in today’s climate.
His tales of everyday life have naturally led to comparisons to Mike Skinner and Eminem, but in actuality there is very little similarity in what Plan B is doing.
First of all his songs aren’t primarily built out of an array of samples and break beats. Many of his songs are driven by acoustic guitar with Plan B’s vicious raps punctuating like thrusts from a butterfly knife. If anything he’s invented a new genre – Folk Hop anyone?
Not that he’d be particularly welcome at many folk festivals. It’s quite likely that the chubby, bearded, real ale swillers would quietly ask him to ramble off within a minute of the opening salvo of Kidz. Opening with, “This is my time now, you get me? Fuckin’ cunts” is likely to ruffle a few feathers.
It is obvious from all of these songs that Plan B is assuming a persona, which during the course of this album is probably the only source of comfort. Kidz tells the story of a 14 year old kid assaulting everything that comes before him. He’s stabbing “some cunt” in an alleyway, fucking (or raping) underage girls, and aspiring to be a notorious dealer. This apparently, is the mentality of kids today. As an opening track it slaps you around the face and punches you in the stomach. It’s a harsh reflection of urban life and terrifyingly none of it really seems to be the work of fantasy.
According to almost every newspaper in the country we are currently living in a ‘Knife Culture’. If these songs are anything to go by they were hardly being alarmist. Stabbings are everywhere from the opening bar to the last. Sick 2 Def depicts such an assault in reverse – it’s certainly shocking, but perhaps most importantly, it shows off Plan B’s lyrical dexterity. So enthralling is his style that Sick 2 Def almost becomes a cinematic experience.
It’s not just the yoof that are running amok throughout Who Needs Actions. On Mama there’s a step dad who hits the crack pipe hard, making our hard talking protagonist’s life even harder. “30 something years old, he should be ashamed” he says, downtrodden. It’s not just the kidz that are fucked up in Plan B’s world, it’s pretty much everyone.
There is a glut of ruthless tales on show here. There are absent fathers, religious bigotry, underage sex encounters, drug abuse, and eyeballs being stabbed with biros at almost every turn, but as bleak as Plan B’s world may be, Who Needs Actions offers a glimmer of hope.
This is one of the most exciting debut albums for sometime, and if a record this good can come from this world then perhaps Oasis should relocate. Complex narratives run through out these songs. It is a smart and sincere record. Rather than glorifying street violence, it shows it for what it really is, utterly mindless. His subjects are harsh, and his mouth is dirtier than a crack whore’s gusset, but Plan B has made an absolutely vital album that you can’t afford to miss. (Sam Shepherd UK)