Monday 14 January 2013
Plan B: Mercury Nominated Rapper Reaps The Benefits Of His Ever-Shifting Musical Landscape
Sometimes it must seem that if your name is Ben Drew and you release anything under the nom de plume of Plan B, then everyone and their granny will claim to have you pigeonholed not only as an artist, but as an individual too.
It sure don"t help when said artist is openly honest in interviews about his hopes, fears and goals.
It also puts backs up when an artist gains cult-status but is so talented and driven that being head of a clique is only a stepping stone to mass recognition.
Ben Drew won"t have it said that his ever-shifting musical landscape is in anyway bandwagon jumping:
"I was making (soul) music before Mark Ronson made his name, before Amy Winehouse made hers."
But then again the mass success of his second album, The Defamation of Strickland Banks, wasn"t the true face of Ben Drew .. he was playing a character, that of a fictional British soul singer imprisoned for a crime he didn"t commit.
The album followed hot on the heels of his debut, Who Needs Actions When You Got Words; a bleep-heavy, anger-driven, realism-encrusted postcard from an inner-city kid to the big wide world.
Plan B was out of the blocks and the grime community were soon left stunned and in his wake.
But the ways of the music industry were a sudden wake-up call for the artist:
"It was quite a hard experience for me. I put a lot into it and I never felt the record company pushed it as hard as they could.
"I felt there was a lot of people on radio getting in the way of me and my audience."
Drew briefly attended an anger management course:
"I just didn't have time to keep going, but I think I've got my anger under control and have a nice long fuse on my temper."
Then came the mind blowing success of The Defamation of Strickland Banks.
Trouble was, few knew or even cared that Drew was acting out a character.
They were just bloody good songs and he was the face that appeared at the microphone.
He soon came to terms with the fact that:
"I need to start handling things like I'm a star and stop thinking I'm just a normal person.
"But I want to keep the right balance. I don't want to have my head up my arse."
For his latest release, Ill Manors, Drew"s gone back to his roots and back to the early hip-hop influence of his debut.
One thing he hasn"t done is retracted from the public eye, as along with the album came his directorial big budget film debut of the same name.
"I"ve found the best way I can get across what I think is by showing examples, stories. I"m a storyteller, everything else is secondary."
Plan B plays The Brighton Centre on 11th February. For more details visit brightoncentre.co.uk
by: Mike Cobley
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