Release Date: Apr 19, 2011
Record label: 679/Atlantic
Genre(s): Rap, R&B, Soul
A Number One hit in England, the second album from this U.K. rapper-turned-crooner is a concept record that tells the story of a fictional soul singer who is falsely imprisoned. There is courtroom drama, there are harrowing scenes in prison showers and late-night bouts of conscience in jail cells. All of it is silly in the extreme.
A prosperous genre in the UK, British rap is largely overlooked in the US. Not all is merry and gay in England; the amount of hoodies, chavs, and ASBOS (Anti-Social Behavior Orders) alone make a convincing enough argument for chronicles of inner-city British life to provide fodder for the rap mill. Ben Drew, better known as British rapper Plan B, provided a perfect case in point with his debut, Who Needs Actions When You Got Words.
High unemployment clearly isn’t affecting UK MCs, as they keep popping up in new jobs. [b]Ms Dynamite[/b] has reappeared as a breakstep vocalist on [b]DJ Zinc[/b]’s [b]‘Wile Out’[/b], while [b]Craig David[/b]’s released an album of soul covers. Now [b]Plan B[/b] – who you may remember as the rapper who struck fear into children and the elderly with his spectacularly violent soliloquies on debut [b]‘Who Needs Action When You Got Words’[/b] – has come back with a collection of Motown pastiches.
The artist who attempts a sudden and dramatic change in musical direction might do well to remember the sorry tale of Skabba the Hut. They never even released a record, confining their noisome activities – is there a more cheerless-sounding genre than "comedy ska-funk"? – to the bars of Poughkeepsie. There, they plied their trade beneath the slogan "bust a nut with Skabba the Hut!", which at least offered advanced warning of what an insufferable evening you were in for if you went to see them, perhaps for the benefit of anyone who hadn't already worked that out purely on the basis of their name.
This could steer Plan B towards being one of the year’s biggest pop stars. Ian Wade 2010 Plan B, or Ben Drew to avoid confusion with the various other Plan Bs in operation, first emerged to the mainstream in 2006 with the album Who Needs Actions When You Got Words. The Forest Gate fox set out his stall as a – putting it mildly – angry issues-based young man in thrall to Eminem, and would probably have had your eye out if you so much as looked as him funny.