Ill Manors : The Political and Social Message

RnB/Hip Hop | Tuesday 18th June 2013 | Keshav

Plan B's Ill Manors was released as a political message that must still be appreciated a year on!

Almost a year ago Plan B released his heavily anticipated follow up to his debut The Defamation of Strickland Banks. Ill Manors was set on the backdrop of the terrifying  London riots which took place in 2012. Not only did the album reveal the problems of the youth and gang culture that had emerged in England's capital city, and it also spokje volumes for ‘Ben Drew’ (Aka Plan B ) as an artist committed to highlighting the social divisions which have occur emerged in London. An interesting fact that emerged the other day suggested that ‘one in 29 Londoners are dollar millionaires’.  What does this fact say about the city? If it is true, then why is London still one of the most unequal 'super cities' in the world?

Plan B illustrated in his album the problems which have puzzeled governments and leaders for years. Heightened by the cuts of social benefits and wages, and the struggles of economic inflation, these problems continue to occur. Travelling to some of London’s outer boroughs, you will see many young children, as young as 12 and 13, have become involved in the drug-gang 'game'. The 'game' is tough and dangerous, and unfortunately it increasingly encroaching on the lives of more and more you Londoners, often as a result of their lack of guardian love and support. The riots of 2012 highlighted young people have been misunderstood and ignored, and Plan B’s song Ill Manors highlights this. With lyrics such as:

‘We’ve had it with you politicians , you bloody rich kids never listen. There’s no such thing as broken Britain we’re just bloody broke in Britain. What needs fixing is the system, not shop windows down in Brixton.’

These lyrics seem to suggest a direct attack on politicians and especially David Cameron’s glossed up excuses for these problems.  Plan B seems to attack the government of today by accusing them of being too city focussed and not understanding the underlying issues many young Londoners. Social deprivation has haunted London for many years but has been brushed under the carpet amid the West End’s huge commercial success. In 2012 a promise was made.  The Olympics was a beacon of hope for London, being placed in one of the capital city's poorest boroughs, the games promised to bring new jobs, and provide new facilities. What was promised was never delievered. ‘Legacy’ was a word which was touted as the motto of the games.

‘Do what Boris does and rob them blind’  is a lyric from the Song Ill Manors and speak volumes of what young people believe goes on at the top

In various interviews, Plan B highlighted how politicians are so out of touch with society. He believes the riots or something like them was totally inevitable and has not in any way condoned their actions, but hopes his album will highlight the problems. What Plan B has done is highlight a genuine problem that many artists shy away from. The rapper is also committed to helping young people by setting up a charity to help what he describes as ‘vigilante social workers’. Plan B made this album to get under peoples skin to help him broadcast his destiny. He is focussed on the positive aspects and is trying to send out a political message. In an interview with Radio 1 he recently claimed:

‘We have certain prejudices in middle class England that we’ve labelled against the underclass and the riots sadden me because it just played into their hands ’

Plan B describes that the problem goes deeper than one might first imagine, how something as simple as using the word ‘chav’ can be placed on the same ground as using a racist , sexist term something widely frowned upon in society. Why then do we use the term so openly when its meaning is something most people don’t understand? The youth of today quite clearly feel alienated. 

The thing with Plan B’s album is it puts across a political message. Music is a great way to put forward a political message, and if more artists followed suit then they may succesfully bring about change. Plan B has championed this movement by stating in his song :

‘I’ll be that lyrical narrator social commentator’   

Artists of this generation need not shy away from society’s problems but embrace them and give them meaning to achieve real and genuine change.

Keshav Kapoor