The Guardian has called it ‘the greatest British protest song in years’, NME says it’s a direct threat to David Cameron, and Huffington Post says Plan B has reason to fear a drop in fan numbers following his change of style. Ill Manors isn’t my Song of the Day because of any of the aforementioned statements; it’s my Song of the Day because I liked it, and I think it deserves your attention, regardless of your own musical preferences.
I myself enjoy a fair bit of good old American rap (ain’t it cray?), and the occasional British break-throughs that appear sporadically on the Top 40 Charts, like Rizzle Kicks and Maverick Sabre. To be quite honest with you, I hadn’t heard of any new releases from Plan B since his peak at No. 3 with “She Said” in the BBC UK Top 40 Charts (vid available here). And then, like a phoenix rising from its ashes (I’m sure he’s had more successful releases since then, but nothing’s caught my ignorant ear), he comes up with a new single, Ill Manors. iLL Manors is actually being turned into a film, due to be released later this year, with much more music done by Plan B, so look out for that!
N0w I’m not going to butcher the song by relaying all the lyrics, but I do recommend that you pay special attention to them when you listen and/or look them up. The words are sharp, they cut to the core, meaning the song does a great job of highlighting the perspective of the often ignored party – the prejudiced-against, the beaten-around, and often misundertood London ‘youths’. If anything, it’s a direct conversation with the government, and it’s a proclamation of betrayal and feeling let down. It’s angry, it’s bitter, and best of all, it’s set to Dmitri Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony (or Symphony No. 7). I won’t be lying if I said that this was the main reason I stayed tuned and didn’t skip radio stations; to me, any contemporary musician who can mix multiple types of music and, even better, pay tribute to the classics in his work – is a genius. Plan B definitely just soared up on my music radar after all this Shostakovich business, and I suspect this is not the last time he’ll be appearing on my blog.
PS This may be a very nerdy thing to point out, but given that the 7th Symphony was written to commemorate resistance against the Nazi invasion of Leningrad, this can be a relevant point. The video starts with Plan B playing air violin atop a tower block, looking over the smoking city beneath him – much like a general might have done when surveying the Soviet city landscape before him (or so I like to think). I may be wrong, there’s a lot of speculation about the intention behind the original 7th, so comments welcome.
Plan B’s single, “Ill Manors” was released on 23rd March. The film “iLL Manors” is due to be released on 4th May (UK).