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The Defamation of Strickland Banks

Plan B

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Album Review

Four years after Plan B garnered renown, if not universal acclaim, with his debut album Who Needs Actions When You Got Words (2006), he switched styles from rap to soul on his follow-up effort, Defamation of Strickland Banks. Though it's distressing to hear yet another artist hop about the retro-stylized British soul-pop bandwagon, rapper-turned-singer Ben Drew nonetheless comes up with an impressive and fairly unique album that transcends the usual comparisons to Amy Winehouse vocally and Mark Ronson musically. For someone who cut his teeth as a rapper, he's not a bad singer at all. His vocals bear a striking resemblance to those of Smokey Robinson, which nicely complements the Motown-influenced musical style of the album. The production is credited in part to Paul Epworth, whose work with Bloc Party, Kate Nash, and Florence and the Machine has made him one of the United Kingdom's top hitmakers, and it's also credited in part to Drew himself. Kudos to these guys for coming up with a sharp soul-pop style that incorporates a variety of instrumentation, with drums, guitar, and strings at the forefront of each song. In addition to his soul crooning and production guidance, Drew occasionally breaks into rap, such as on the kinetic lead single, "Stay Too Long." The raps in particular give the album an edge lacking in myriad other British soul-pop albums flooding the market the past few years. Another characteristic that makes Defamation of Strickland Banks unique is that it's a concept album about a fictional character named Strickland Banks with Drew as an aspiring actor with an ability to bring the songs to life cinematically. Yet this is the least impressive aspect of the album. It made for good promotional videos in the case of "Stay Too Long," and the likewise stellar follow-up single, "She Said," but the overall plot of Defamation of Strickland Banks is thinly stretched and far less interesting than the songs themselves.

Customer Reviews

Where's the angry young man whose music I'd come to love?

I am so disappointed with this. Listening to Plan's older album 'Who Needs Actions When You Got Words?' and then comparing it to this, you'd think I was listening to a completely different artist. This man was once hailed as 'The British Eminem' but there's nothing left of that here.

Everything that made him great: the poetic storytelling, the lyrics that held nothing back and the brutally honest commentary about modern day life, has all been scrapped to make his music radio-friendly and more appealing to the mainstream.

If you are a fan of Plan's earlier music, then you might want to skip this one. If you're not, which is likely if you're a pop fan, then by all means give this a go. But just remember that you are listening to Plan C, not the sharp-tongued lyrical genius he used to be.

Wowowowow!

Fantastic album
The mix of singing and rapping works great
Gonna be hugeee
Well done plan b!

Full of WIN !

This is the best thing I've heard this year, in fact, in a long time from anyone. It's great to hear such a well thought out and clever album. This deserves a place in everyone's music collection.

Biography

Born: 22 October 1983 in Forest Gate, London, England

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '00s, '10s

British MC and actor Plan B (real name: Ben Drew) came to notice with "Cap Back," a playful, Wiley-referencing track produced by Roll Deep's Wonder that appeared on the 679 label's Run the Road compilation in 2005. Signed to 679's roster, the London native proceeded to release a handful of singles across 2005 and 2006, which culminated in his debut album, Who Needs Actions When You Got Words. Its title a Meat Puppets reference, with tracks featuring clever samples of Hall & Oates, the Prodigy,...
Full bio
The Defamation of Strickland Banks, Plan B
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