Before Ben Drew aka Plan B started singing, he rapped. We may have seen this on the soundtrack to Ill Manors not so long ago, but it wasn’t a solo Plan B album, it was an accompaniment to the film. Back in 2006, Plan B released his debut studio album Who Needs Actions When You Got Words.
Kidz is the opening track, and it illustrates exactly what the cover art does, dirt, grit, loneliness and despair. It’s brutal and forthright, Plan B doesn’t hold back and is as graphic and vulgar as it can get, rightfully so, understood as a protest song to the government about the state of the country; violence, drugs, rape, teenage pregnancy and more are all vividly described with impeccable flow and lyricism.
After Kidz, the dynamic and justified use of profanity fades, it’s no longer used as meaningfully or as effectively and seems to be utilised as ineffective shock value; ‘reservoir dogs style, slice off the ear’, rather than intelligently.
Plan B is an excellent lyricist, his words tell a story that flawlessly rhymes and effectively paints a picture, fan favourite Charmaine and Mama (loves a crackhead) are indicators of what an intelligent musician Drew is, cleverly sampling Hall & Oates’ I Can’t Go For That on the latter.
Who Needs Actions When You Got Words can draw a wide variety of opinions, powerful songs of protest blended with personal experiences make this a scattered album with ideas often becoming glassy and misguided as a whole. Plan B is a great songwriter who can rap, sing and play the guitar, there’s a whole lot of positives to take away, but often the ideas aren’t executed with conviction, due to Drew’s desire to shock and awe.