Live Music Reviews

Plan B @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London

9 February 2007

Ben Drew grew up in Forest Gate, East London. He comes on stage with his hoodie pulled up, looking like your regular ASBO brandishing piece of estate scum. At first sight youd expect him to spit his lyrics, swagger round the stage letting off steam in a misogynistic foul mouthed tirade. But he doesn’t.

His lyrics are hard hitting and cover the full gamut of drug addiction, rape, murder, underage sex, but rather than aggression and hate what you get is the smart, savvy, ruminations of a social commentator.

Words are Plan B’s way of putting the world to rights. His lyrical punches are jam packed full of tight rhymes and eloquent storytelling. As well as being a gifted musician, he knows how to spin a story and populates each track with inner city characters so real that they almost materialise on stage along side him as he sings.

Charmaine, a song about a little Lolita he is seduced by, is a great example of his storytelling prowess. He doesnt shy away from headline grabbing polemics either. In Tough Love he sings about honour killings and the parents who let their children down. In Kidz (inspired by the murder of Damilola Taylor) tells the story of a 14-year-old who rapes and kills. Dead and Buried also hits pretty hard and is an account of three different people, one living with Aids, the other is a junkie and the third is in jail. Mama is another anthem and one of his best known tracks.

Killa Kele came on stage towards the end and the place naturally went mental. Plan B has a blunt, depressing take on life, but there is a richness and depth to his lyrics that sets him apart from the crude rhymes and base narratives of The Streets and Marshall Mathers.

Drew’s lyrics are incisive, his slices of life poignant and barbed, and he is hugely talented with a live show stacked full of energy, mayhem and dedication to preserving the souls and spirits of the youngsters in E5, making others just seem like vitriolic hoodlums in outsized clothes .

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More on Plan B
Plan B – Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose
Plan B @ O2 Arena, London
Plan B – Ill Manors
Plan B @ Great Suffolk Street Warehouse, London
Plan B – The Defamation Of Strickland Banks