London's potty-mouth gets gritty and real without being boring
At a glance, east London’s Plan B is a gimmick: a hoodie-wearing, perma-scowling, Asbo-in-waiting, with a mouth fouler than Towers Of London’s week-old Y-fronts.
He’s also a rapper who joins himself on acoustic guitar and references Radiohead and Cobain. You can almost hear a marketing manager rubbing his hands with glee.
But go beneath the obvious Marshall Mathers influences and you’ll see that while Plan B creates characters who shout bleak, brutal words about drugs, murder and absent fathers there is a strict moral tone.
He doesn’t glorify nastiness. Instead, ultra-violence is the road to nowhere: the Damilola Taylor inspired ‘Kidz’. Drugs will eventually ruin you: the Rage Against The Machine-driven ‘No More Eatin’’, a rap that rushes with the deadly thrill of an out-of-control car racing down a hill.
All these elements, which should jar, coalesce into a complete urban vision that showcases Plan B’s rare talent. It’s a world of casual violence and worthless, dead-end lives. His world may be grittier, but Plan B’s up there with Alex Turner as a lyricist, crafting simple and darkly witty songs about the reality of life in Britain. It’s the brilliantly foul-mouthed
sound of the summer.