Strictly Strick­land

But only for now. Rap­per turned soul man Plan B tells Tony Clayton-Lea his new al­bum will con­tinue the Strick­land Banks story – but an­other shift in style could fol­low

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

It does, and that’s why I change things as much as pos­si­ble. With the first record, Who Needs Ac­tion When You Got Words, it was hip-hop. And to me, if it had felt right to make a sec­ond record in the vein of hip-hop, then I would have done it. I at­tempted to, but ev­ery­thing I wrote around that time wasn’t any­where near as good. Then I re­alised I was writ­ing soul mu­sic, not hip-hop, and I made a con­scious de­ci­sion to run with the songs that ended up on The Defama­tion of Strick­land Banks. I knew I would leave my orig­i­nal fan base, and pos­si­bly fuck up my ca­reer. But I thought, I am what I am. The first al­bum was hard­core hip-hop, but then I’m a hard­core guy. But I’m also a soul singer – al­ways have been. I was a soul singer be­fore I was a rap­per. No­body is one-di­men­sional in life. As for be­ing pi­geon­holed, part of me thinks that’s very nec­es­sary, es­pe­cially when you try to de­scribe it to peo­ple who need ref­er­ence points. I don’t get up­set by it. For me it’s not a mas­sive is­sue. Peo­ple can put me in a box if they want – I’ll just de­stroy it from the in­side. I mean, I’ve been called the Bri­tish Eminem and the male Amy Wine­house. The de­scrip­tions change with each al­bum. Be­ing com­pared to the best is a com­pli­ment, isn’t it? I’m the same bloke, but I think a lot of peo­ple around me have changed. I’m be­ing treated dif­fer­ently be­cause they see me on tele­vi­sion or in the news­pa­per and mag­a­zines, lis­ten to my songs on the ra­dio. Frankly, I don’t have time to watch tele­vi­sion, read news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines or lis­ten to the ra­dio.

In other words, the things that peo­ple see me do or read about me do­ing have be­come the nor­mal things for me to do. Like, go­ing on stage with El­ton John is not nec­es­sar­ily the usual thing to do, but with my life the way it is now, go­ing on stage with him is very much nor­mal. What I’m do­ing now is not some dream state – it’s the real world for me, and I’m ex­pe­ri­enc­ing it the way other peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence their nor­mal lives. So my life now is the nor­mal­ity for me. I’m the same guy, but I’m liv­ing in a dif­fer­ent world from a lot of other peo­ple. If Ben saw Plan B now he’d think he was the bomb. Lis­ten, mate, I’m never go­ing to do any­thing that my heart is not in to. What I’m do­ing now is great. I fully be­lieve in it and I’m fully com­fort­able with it. I’m proud of what I did on the first record, I’m proud of what I did on the sec­ond record, and with sub­se­quent al­bums I know I’m go­ing to be proud of those, too.

Why should I not ad­mit my love of soul mu­sic to the world, just be­cause the com­mon per­cep­tion of me is that I’m an an­gry, ag­gres­sive, un­der­ground rap­per? Why should I hide things like that? Yes, I can be an ag­gres­sive rap­per, but I can also be a re­ally soft, ro­man­tic soul singer. The next thing I do will not be soul mu­sic, but what­ever I de­cide to do I can guar­an­tee that I’ll do it the right way. Which is staying true to the essence of what­ever that mu­sic is.

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