Plan B - Manchester Academy 2 - 7.2.07

When Plan B came out of the UK Hip hop scene he was a vital shot to the system. No more would UK hip hop be the preserve of the kind of realism that the middle classes see through dramas such as Coronation Street and Eastenders. The Streets were essentially the sort of charichature that Damon Albarn had developed over a decade ago during Blur's Parklife period and on Mike Skinner's recent album, his lyrics are the sort of social commentary you'd expect from a Channel 5 docusoap entitled "Chavs meet The High Life".

Supporting Roots Manuva at Apollo at the tail end of 2006, Plan B's ascendance has risen sharply, but rather than water down his art, B's psyche has changed. No more does he want to be the rapper indie kids are allowed to like, the band behind him sound more like Rage Against The Machine or One Minute Silence more than anything fey heard down the indie disco and for the first time in his career the power of the music matches that of his lyrics.

Although the older material such as "Mama" and "Charmaine" from the debut "Who Needs Actions When You Got Words" are as affecting as ever, it's the newer cuts which are ultimately more interesting and come from the underground mixtape "Paint It Blacker". "Suzanne", an Necro influenced joint with the sound of a chainsaw and girl screaming for her life echoing off the walls of the venue being unsettling while at the same time sounding ever so slightly reserved in lieu of his American cousins. "Shot In Harvey Nicks", a remix of the Mitchell Brothers single and a reworked version of "Kids" gets Led Zeps "Whole Lotta Love" riff as an extended intro marking the Death of Top Of The Pop's

More than ever Plan B is looking like the most influential hip hop artists the UK has brought us in years and the new underground material is testament to that. With US hip hop has an all time low creatively, UK hip hop has a truly original lyrical rapper whose new material is setting the standard that all others have to reach for.

Alex McCann
Photos: Shirlaine Forrest


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