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Ben Drew aka Plan B is amazing in my opinion. He's both a singer and rapper and can also play the guitar beautifully. Back when i was a bit younger i was really into his music (obsessively so!) after an ex introduced me to his cd's and mixtapes, and this cd is certianly my favourite. This album, Who Needs Actions When You Got Words is his debut album and was released in june 2006. The album was produced, mixed and directed by Ben.
Most people will have heard of him due to his most recent album, The Defamation Of Strickland Banks, an R&B/soul album bursting with catchy lyrics. This album is very much different.
The songs all have an acoustic sound to them and although gritty, are relateable to most people.
It's easier to run each song down rather than attempt to describe all of the songs in a paragraph. As the songs are graphic and may offend some people, reader discretion is advised.
Track 1: Kids
4 Minutes and 7 Seconds
Probably one of the most controversial songs on the entire album. It's from the view of a young 14 year old teenage boy, an example of todays youth. He describes fighting, gangs/drug dealers, killing (by stabbing) and raping underage girls, and how he dosn't care about the consequences. Although it's disturbing, full of disguting language and as said before, extremely controversial, it shows the naiveity of some children these days;
"There's a gangster named Bonehead who runs things around my area, the sh*it he's involved couldn't get any hairier, if you wanna sit listening, he'll find you no matter where you are, f*cking with him is worse than catching malaria. He's the most notorious drug dealer on my estate, so ..... back to heroin and cocaine, double cross him and you'll feel the pain and theres more disappearing acts on the street than David Blaine. And I wanna be just like him, riding in a blacked out, pimping with alloy rims, doing drive-by's, firing an AK47 out the window and ting. See that kinda sh*t impresses me cos I got an ignorant mentality, the way I see is the way to be, so I haven't got nothing will ever get through to me"
This verse alone demonstrates how some children who are brought up in certain areas/certain ways, see drug dealing as a lifestyle full of respect, money and luxury. Although the teenage boy knows it's wrong, and knows what's happening (kidnappings etc), he wants to become this person in order to establish a reputation on the estate he lives on - "show the kids on my estate that I'm unstoppable"
Ben Drew does an amazing portrail of a teenager; it's obvious this isn't about himself, with lines such as "Pick up an AK and spray. That's the mentality of kids today." Drew was brought up in a bad area in london and i can only imagine that although he did get involved in some of the scenarious mentioned in the song, it's more dsigned to be hard hitting, with such graphic descriptions of muggings, murder and rape. I can't help but think the description of murdering a young boy;
"I break a bottle over some boys head, stab a broken piece in to the poor c*nts leg, I leave him in an alley where he's screaming and bleeding to death, run away laughing my head off, just to leave him for dead. What do I care? It's not like I'm gonna get caught, anyways, killing ain't a crime; it's a f*cking blood sport and I might have to notch up as many points as possible, show the kids on my estate that I'm unstoppable."
is somehow related to the murder of damilola taylor and the ignorance of the young murderers.
Even the tone of Ben's voice is full of cockiness and immaturity, yet so unsure at the same time.
Overall it's a song not for the faint hearted - in no way would i reccomend this to anyone who dislikes swearing or violence, but it's full of truth and some people may be able to relate to it; who knows, maybe a young boy listening to it who has the same mentality that Ben portrays will realise just how ridiculous it is to commit such crimes.
Track 2: Sick 2 Def
4 Minutes and 44 Seconds
Guitar based song with ben singing over, love his voice in this song with the emotion and detail in each sentence. Another very graphic song in which he explores various subjects, especially irony and the hypocrites of the world, claiming that the news is just as bad as video games, with stories full of death. He also contriversially delcares that michael jackson is a paedophile which has been edited out of a majority of the albums. Towards the end of the song he clones nas' style of rapping in reverse, starting with a man laying in the mourge dead. It goes back, to him been rushed to a&e in critical condition and then back to him standing in the street and been attacked; his ear is cut off and his throat then slit. The murderer then goes in reverse and he's soon back home, listening to Ben Drews (Plan B's) album, and the police decide that the album was the motive for the murder due to the disturbing contents; i remember similar happening with Eminem when he was blamed for a teenager shooting his classmates or something similar. Overall it's a good song with recogniseable names and a few relateable lines.
Track 3: No Good
4 Minutes and 56 Seconds
A much more upbeat song, the video's really good too. Although it's a more upbeat feeling song, it's still quite violent; "I'll stab you in your eyeball." Quite amusing at some points, but full of strong language and again not for the faint hearted!!
Track 4: Dead and Buried
4 Minutes and 38 Seconds.
A beautiful but again disturbing song. It's about people who are too far gone to be saved.
An aids victim who contracted the disease after huge amounts of unprotected sex.
"Alex" a paranoid drug addict and thief. He steals because "without my buzz i'm a nervous wreck; i'll do absoloutley anything to support my habit." His family want nothing to do with him and from the amount of injecting his veins are collapsing. He describes when high on drugs, all the worries are washed away. He owes large amounts of money and describes himself as too far gone to ever be saved; "i'm dead and buried, ain't no hope left for me in this world."
An unnamed 27 year old man who's in prison for shooting someone; he's also killed another inmate to protect himself and injured another. He knows he made a mistake, but doesn't regret it; the man he injured by 'capping in the knee' with a sawn off shotgun was his sisters abusive boyfriend who repeatedly beat and raped her; since the unamed man has gone to prison, his sister has gone back to the abusive boyfriend and gotten engaged, which hugely frustrates him.
Overall it's an interesting listen. Ofcourse all these people are bens personas', with your average dead-end type people. I didn't pity any of them really apart from person 3 for obvious reasons.
Track 5: Mama
3 Minutes and 57 Seconds
Ben advises for his mum to stay away from her crack addict boyfriend. She's changed since meeting him and can't see that she 'deserves more.' Ben feels that the boyfriend is very immature and trying to come between his mum; his mum doesn't believe that the boyfriend has a drug addiction. The boyfriend has also been caught by both ben and his mum with another women on the family sofa. The boyfriend also attempted suicide which frustrates ben and he feels it was simply a cry for attention from ben's mum.
The chorus is gorgeous and demonstrates how versatile bens voice is, as one minute he's emotionally rapping and the next singing at full blast. "And whilst you're sitting at home he's out smoking crack tonight. And i can't go through that no more."
Overall a really powerful and sweet song despite the strong language and sensetive topic. Although he's quite pushy and hard in the song it's obvious it's because he wants the best for his mum and from the sound of it she's had many similar boyfriends in the past who have hurt her.
Track 6: Charmaine
3 Minutes and 48 Seconds
Ben tells a story in first person of a boy and girl meeting at a train station. The boy is automatically attracted to her unusual looks; half spanish and half black with green eyes and a nice womanly body. The boy gains her phone number and after lots of texts and calls he decides he wants more than just sex, and now wants to date her. They arrange to meet and go onto a dinner date which is very sweet. They then return to the boys house and have sex, which he brags about the next day only to discover that his friend knows Charmaine, and after ben notices that the friend is looking at him oddly demands to know why, with the friend explaining "blud, that girl's fourteen." The boy is shocked and demands in the chorus for her to get out of his life, as although he's in love with her ("like a leaf in the autumn, i had fallen"), he knows it's wrong; he's 19 and she's 14.
I think what ben's trying to do is demonstrate the danger of young girls these days; they look older than they are. I know when i was 13/14 i looked atleast 18, and lied frequently about my age. I doubt this song will persuade men to check how old a girl is, but it might make some people think twice.
Track 7: I don't hate you
5 Minutes and 14 Seconds
A song dedicated to his father. Goes into a lot of detail but the basics are that his dad left him and his mum when ben was young. Ben remembers his dad making him preach etc when he was younger ; "When we talk about your antics now there always met with laughter. "Did he really used to make you pray before you ate a mars bar?" Yes. Every time we put something in our mouths we had to pray to Jesus, why the f*ck you think I never used to eat Malteaser's?" Ben strongly disagrees with this, and explains his dad is a religious 'nut job', and how embarrising it is introducing girls to him etc and his frustrations with how his dad forcefully raised him before leaving. Although it sounds quite comical it's an intense song full of emotion and hate however states (maturely): "you mean nothing to me, you're just another geezer. I wont hit you, still I wont hug you neither. if we ever meet again cold is how i'm gonna treat ya." To be honest i am totally in agreement with Ben and his dad does sound very odd, ben is also frustrated that his dads girlfriend gets all of his 'non looney' attention and is overall fed up with his dad.
Track 8: Everyday
Powerful song, telling the of a man in the haze of deep depression. I can hugely relate to every sentence (apart from the alcholism), the frustration of depression, the confusion felt and the sheer willpower but it's not enough to get out of it. Very emotional song for me and although it is a dark, depressing song, i think it's probably his best.
There's so much emotion and reality in there. "Its fake cos I know the smile on my face is only there coz I'm too intoxicated to care, that inside my soul I cant find no hope just a gaping whole where it used to be there; an unmeandable tear that when I'm sober hurts more than I can bare."
The end of the song ends nicely with;
"I can only blame myself, its me who's bad for my health and only I can rectify what is wrong in my life if only I tried a little bit harder, it all comes down to a choice what would I rather - stay how I am and watch the days get darker or forgive myself, get on with my life.. and not look back after."
Track 9: Tough Love
5 Minutes and 3 Seconds
Disturbing song about abuse in families; "Tough love, i call it hatred." It follows a muslim/asian girl called Sunita, who skives praying to look at magazines. She buys a magazine called Bliss; a popular magazine for teenage girls. She soon realises she's late home from school and rushes home to find her mum and dad waiting for her. Her dad hits her, causing her to drop her school books and magazine, which her mum and dad see, enraging them. They drag her down to the cellar and violently attempt an exorcism, beating and torturing her, to which she attempts to fight back, with the description that the physical pain was nothing compared to the heartbreak. The police arrive minutes after she's dead. Her parents tell the police it was out of love. Ben describes the song been based on a true story, which doesn't suprise me due to the amount of child murders nowadays. One review i've read describes the song as follows; "Tough Love is one of the clearest reasons for the Eminem comparison, recalling in tragic detail one set of parents' perverse sense of discipline and the ensuing death of their daughter." Overall it's a disturbing song which i very rarely listen to as it does upset me quite a bit.
Track 10: Where Ya From
3 Minutes and 43 Seconds
Ben speaks huge amounts of truth in this. Full of maturity; basically it describes how people in england ("thrill seeking d*ckheads"), are living in self inflicted ghetto's. Very interesting song and even claims that the music industry (50 cent as an example) causes youths as young as ten 'walk around like men' and become thugs, stabbing and robbing. He explains the police are past caring and seeing gangs standing smoking drugs isn't a rarity anymore.
Track 11: No More Eatin'
4 Minutes and 41 Seconds
The story of a bullied boy who finally fights back, and he slowly developes into a hardened thug and drug dealer, explaining that no one would dare try anything with him after he knocked a boys teeth out and violently beat him 'blue and black' after he attempted to mug him. "I'm 19 years to the day and it's been three since someone tried it, and as soon as they do i'll knock there lights out like they were ultraviolet." He explains anyone who does try it will get a "world full of pain." (Ben's pain after the bullying), and says he doesn't know if he could promise not to kill somebody in his range. This song is also available as an acoustic version which is really good, and is available to listen to on youtube
Track 12: Missing Links
3 Minutes and 33 Seconds
Full of depressing stories of experiences of friends dieing due to drug addictions and the denial that drug addicts possess. He tries to persuade the listener to do something with there life; "What ever happened to your dreams and asperations, blood? Now the highlight of your day's maturbation, blood." Interesting and relateable song, espacially the irony of it all.
Track 13: Couldn't Get Along
5 Minutes and 44 Seconds
The frustrations of having a friend who's immature and into bad things such as drug dealing. Ben attempts to persuade him to make his life better and sort himself out; his own life is 'heading towards the right place', and although he doesn't want to leave him behind, day after day of his friend acting how he does is slowly changing his mind. His friend utimately ends up murdered (assumably by drug dealers he owed alot of money to as he smoked alot of drugs) in his flat, which suprises ben as he had "a big f*ck off dog to protect you", but it emerges that they also killed the dog. Ben is devastated "I felt an overwhelming sadness" of his friends death but it allows him to move on to a better life for both himself and in the memory of his friend.
Track 14: Who Needs Actions When You Got Words
3 Minutes and 33 Seconds
Ben is frustrated with the amount of people who want to violently fight and describes he doesn't 'need to loose his head' anymore, and words can hurt more than violence. He tells us he's lost alot of friends since signing a record deal which frustrates him, but has taught him to see through people.
Overall a very graphic album which may not to be everyones taste.
My copy of the album was £3.80 from Amazon which is very reasonable. The artwork is simple and simply shows ben and his guitar with the album title on the background wall in graffiti. No CD extras.
Plan B (AKA Ben Drew) is getting the plaudits he absolutely deserves for his new more commerical album, but this album signals a absolutely superb British talent who can clearly rap as well as sing exceptionally well.
This is a rough album, in the respect that it doesn't hide its views on Urban UK, it is rude, violent and utterly uncompromising, but also beautifully musical and incredibly well created.
The album has to be for over 18's simply based on the references to rude words and violence, it also has to be listened to on the understanding that this is entirely fictional, perhaps characters are based on real life, but this isn't real life at all and shouldn't be perceived as such.
The album is 15 songs long and includes a cover of the Prodigy's 'No Good' which is fantastic. It has a fantastic beat but the lyrics are entirely different apart from the chorus, which I love, as it has a familiar refrain but entirely different song.
The rest of the album is gritty, honest and very good, Dead and Buried is a great song where the story of a knifing is retold from the death backwards, which borrows from Nas but does admit this from the start.
Kidz starts the album in a really nasty way talking about the stigma of violence nowadays, comparing it to video games, and respect. The song then develops and you realise this is a parable about kids today not the opinion of the singer, this then makes you appreciate how good the song is, its heavy, nasty and the lyrics are uncomfortable but honest, the musical score is excellent, bassy, heavy and hard like the song.
Sick 2 Def is brilliant as B plays an Acoustic guitar and raps about what he is tired of, its emotional and totally different as you don't generally expect this combination of instrument and rap, the lyrics are morbid but exceptional, they defy further listens, again similar to Eminem the rapper is clearly playing a character, a very angry character but a character nonetheless.
The rest of the album covers broken homes, more violence, underage sex and the stupidity of youth and violence.
I think it is easy to misinterpret this album and take it as an encouragement for youthful exuberance and violence, it is really an essay in the sad decay in our cities, the singers lyrics are exceptional and his singing is brilliant too, it really does herald him as a talent for the future and whilst his next album does encourage listen for his singing this is easily as good as that album if not better in many ways.
It is too long at 16 songs and mixes brilliance with a couple of average songs, but every song is listenable and this is one of the best British albums my a male i've heard in the last 20 years.
2. Sick 2 Def
3. No Good
4. Dead And Buried
5. Mama (Loves A Crackhead)
7. I Don't Hate You
9. Tough Love
10. Where Ya From
11. No More Eatin'
12. Missing Links
13. Couldn't Get Along
14. Who Needs Actions When You Got Words
Available on Itunes and on Amazon for £4.99 i'd definitely recommend it.
Ben Drew aka Plan B is an East London rapper with a twist. His songs are heavily dominated by acoustic guitars and, in fact, some of his songs only feature a guitar. There are not many rappers in todays climate that would even attempt this, let alone pull it of with such style! After listening to Plan B and seeing Plan B perform live I am a massive fan.
Who Needs Actions When You Got Words tracklist:
2 "Sick 2 Def"
3 "No Good"
4 "Dead and Buried"
5 "Mama (Loves a Crackhead)"
7 "I Don't Hate You"
9 "Tough Love"
10 "Where Ya From?"
11 "No More Eatin'"
12 "Missing Links"
13 "Couldn't Get Along"
14 "Who Needs Actions When You Got Words
There are some excellent tracks here, most notably singles 'Mama (Loves A Crackhead)' and 'No Good' (which re-vocals the chorus of The Prodigy's 'No Good (Start The Dance)').
Plan B deals with alot of gritty subjects throughout this album; from underage sex to murder and drugs and everything inbetween. Its a well written and performed album, Ben Drew clearly has talent in abundence. Its great to hear UK Hip Hop which is proud of the fact that its from the UK and is not a cheap imitation of its US counterpart.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Sick 2 Def
3 No Good
4 Dead And Buried
5 Mama (Loves A Crackhead)
7 I Don't Hate You
9 Tough Love
10 Where Ya From
11 No More Eatin'
12 Missing Links
13 Couldn't Get Along
14 Who Needs Actions When You Got Words