More Plan Bs, please
2.27m views and rising on YouTube, many musical commentators seemed to endorse it. Among bloggers, Rhian Jones despite citing other contenders said it caught the mood, an ‘inescapable sense of right now being either turning-point or, more likely, snapping-point’. Dan Hancox worked the Leningrad comparison ‘about a great city under siege, and the ordinary people who suffer in its heart frantically trying to resist’. Simon Reynolds was less effusive: ‘Sonically and in terms of delivery, as a record it imparts a fraction of the “Pow”-er of 2002-2005 era grime - ... wish it was Lethal B not Plan B doing it.’
This isn’t the only issue. Ill Manors seems to be standing on the frontline on its own, isolated. Where are more shitkicking anthems like it? But this is a hip-hop grime hybrid, the unique product of an artist that’s drawn his inspiration from the underground and the social margins but looked to the mainstream for validation. Where’s more from Drew himself, it’s all gone a bit quiet after the TEDx talk and the NME cover. Plan B, who I’m not in any doubt feels the anger and understands the effect of austerity, needs to keep on about that, otherwise it really does look like a cynical record company ploy to get ‘da kids’ on side. Then you realise this is only the centrepiece to his film of the same name (thought the video looked a bit well produced). If not enjoying the full weight even of its own author (and here the Bulmers add swims inexorably into view), Ill Manors is undermined in any bid to be a tipping point for a protest movement.
As things stand we need more modern rage and abrasive fuck yous like Ill Manors the song, and we need more cultural producers pushing the message, more of the time, so that big numbers of people stand up and notice. The film is out in a few weeks, and remembering that PE’s Fight the Power was the fulcrum of Do the Right Thing, with any luck this will inspire more of the same.