I have a confession: I’m slightly in love with Plan B, so forgive me if you come across a tad biased in my review.
When Ben Drew (a.k.a Plan B) decided to change his musical direction from rap to soul, I laughed. A gobby, foul-mouthed rapper, dubbed the UK Eminem was going to attempt to wow us with his ‘singing’ abilities. I was expecting a lot of auto-tune to be perfectly honest, and as you can imagine – auto-tune and soul go together like marmite and shower gel. How wrong we were: this guy could sing, rather well in fact.
He claims his album, ‘The Defamation Of Strickland Banks’ is a story, and that each track is in chronological order and catalogue the events of one Strickland Banks’ life over twelve months. This is all very good, as it will appeal to adults because of the lyrical content being all depthy, and will appeal to children because let’s face it, every child loves a good story.
It’s always great when you read to kids BUT as soon as you start swapping and changing which parts of the story you read and when, that’s when you start confusing the kids. This is not a good idea as their developing minds can’t take the stress DO YOU HEAR?
Where am I going with this? Hmmm… Well, Plan B had planned (no pun) to release singles that would still be able to convey the story of Mr. Banks even if someone hadn’t bought the album. So ‘Stay Too Long’ explored a night at one of his gigs: in the video he’s performing and at the end of it he leaves with a random girl who has managed they persuade him into gettin’ a lil friskayy. But, unfortunate Mr. Banks opted to try and leave in the morning, as we see in subsequent single ‘She Said’s video, which sees the girl trying to entice Banks into staying with her, both in the video and the lyrics, but when he leaves, she accuses him of rape, which is why we see Banks’ Sentence for imprisonment pass at the end of the video.
There is a link here – ‘Stay Too Long’ is track number 3 on Plan B‘s album; ‘She Said’ is number 4; is ‘Prayin” number 5? Nope. It’s number 9. Hardly a little skip over a few filler tracks. And THIS is why all hell’s gonna break loose! Y’all better watch it, who knows what this guy’s up to… he promised us some conformity with his single releases… BUT NOW he’s gone all choppy-and-changey. Not only that, Strickland Banks has turned from a singer who got wrongly accused of rape, into a murderer…!…? When did this happen!?
I’m only bringing this up because I believe the song which is track number 5 would be a far better single choice, but never-the-less, ‘Prayin” we’ve got, and ‘Prayin” we will all enjoy.
On this track, Ben opts to use his lower singing range and not his falsetto, the result is little different to what we heard in his falsetto – he still has a lot of angst in his voice, conveying the distressed and pleading nature of the song’s lyrics -“Lord above, if I just killed a man/Let somebody take the blame/Lord above, if I’m kneeling down/My prayer, take away this pain, oh, nothing helps”, and combined with a very moving video that could be described as slightly mad and slightly pointless in parts, but ultimately is a Shawshank Redemption-esque tale we’ve got here both visually and lyrically – “He came for me, just like I knew he would”; something tells me this line has more sexual connotations than a cheesy headline you’re likely to find on ‘The Sun’s front page, but at least it explains how he became a murderer, so all’s good…but WAIT! Just how did he get that knife? This is exactly the kind of repercussion you get when you jump about different chapters in a story and Ben Drew is learning the hard way I TELL YOU NOW. Unbelievable…
(Spot the ‘Bad Romance’ move in the gym)
Out of all Plan B’s singles so far, this one is by far the best written, best produced, and best sung (in terms of not coming off as someone who’s just paid to sing some words). It shine’s out as a pleading, desperate call for reconciliation, it’s sweeping strings and stormy drums grabbing you by the scruff of your neck a taking you along the same emotional journey Strickland Banks is enduring; really evoking the emotions felt by the singer and conveying them to his audience.
Despite anything previously stated about chronology, I’m thrilled Plan B chose this track to be a single, the video (minus the weird dance routines) is very effective and appropriate, and this should see his well-deserved return to the Top 10.
Rating: 4.5 STARS
Download: July 12, 2010
Featured Album: ‘The Defamation Of Strickland Banks’