“There’s no such thing as broken Britain, we’re just bloody broke in Britain”

At the end of February, Ben Drew, widely known as Plan B, made a return to hip-hop. His new release, ‘ill MANORS‘, sees Ben back in the style he started up in. To many people, it may just sound ‘shouty’, ‘chavy’ or even ‘inflammatory’, but this only highlights much of what Ben tries to convey through his music. Problems in society. The uneducated mess in the UK – either academically or socially.

Obviously, we all know about last summer’s riots in the UK. Like many people, we probably all watched the ‘highlights’ on BBC News 24, somewhere abroad, far away from the smashed windows and excessive looting. Parents probably spoke about their ‘outrage’, then wandered off to get another glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and sit back in the sun. That may be a sweeping generalisation. So, if you read that, and get annoyed by it, then good. Because now you know how it feels. Despite the class divide Ben spoke about in an interview recently, the youth of the UK also got an absolute hammering. It was hard to be young whilst the riots were kicking off – even over here in Middle England. We were looked down on, and slated practically everywhere we went. I work in a near-by shop, and someone actually said to me, “Bet you wouldn’t mind going down there, would you? All you lot want is free shit!” The worst thing about that is that I had to laugh it off, I couldn’t stand up to him, and question why he said it, otherwise I’d have got the sack. Then I’d be playing even further into their hands. Another unemployed youth, eventually leading to being alienated by society. Catch 22.

In the make-believe Waterloo Road recently, you can see this. Yes, it’s Waterloo Road, famous for having a random lottery generator between: Abortion, Pregnancy, Hit & Run or Teacher/Student Relationship, each and every week. But this new series is about ‘tackling gang culture’. Watching Waterloo Road writers deal with a gang culture is exactly the way I’d expect my Hertfordshire school teachers to do so. Pretty badly. Obviously, they will never need to though, will they? But that’s half the problem, we’re so unaffected by the problems the riots exacerbated, that we end up fuelling the fire.

This is one of the many points Ben Drew made in a recent interview with BBC Radio 1xtra’s Mistajam. Speaking for over 40 minutes, it was such an inspirational, honest and raw experience to listen to, and it’s sparked that bit inside of me, that bit which made me decide to write this.

“Its a very delicate process because we are tackling a very delicate subject and we have to get the tone absolutely right. Because Im not trying to condone what happened during in the riots. It disgusted me, it made me sick, but it saddened me more than anything because those kids that were rioting and looting, they’ve just made life ten times harder for themselves. They’ve just played into the hands of what certain sectors of Middle-England think about them, and we have a big issue and prejudice in this country from certain ignorant sectors of middle class people towards the underclass, and an example of this is the word ‘chav’, which in the video I state stands for ‘Council Housed And Violent’… Just because you were lucky enough to be born into a family that can afford to give you a good education, doesnt make you better than anyone, it just makes you lucky, and, again, certain sectors of Middle-England need to wake up and realise that, and stop ridiculing the poor and less fortunate.”

This whole section of the interview was such an eye-opener. I’d imagine a lot of you won’t see anything wrong with using the word ‘chav’ – as it’s so widely using in every form of the media, especially red-top newspapers. So why would you see anything wrong with it? What we need to realise is that, by using words like this, by pushing someone less fortunate than you away, you’re further fuelling the fire. Some of the paper’s coverage of the riots widened that gap between the people taking part, and the rest of society.

Ben finished that point, by saying this, “We are all just, in the simplest form, animals, and when were backed into a corner, we lash out its a primal instinct, and its got nothing to do with class, thats us as human beings. And I guess theres a lot of kids out there in this country that feel like theyve got egg on their face.” And I think that speaks volumes. Remember John Prescott lashing out and punching a member of the general public? “It’s nothing to do with class.”

Why I’m speaking about, and quoting Plan B’s words, then discussing problems many of us will never really understand or come across, and classing it a music article, may be unclear. But I think people need to see the more inspirational side of rap music’s words. As the riots’ wick was still burning, a Daily Mirror ‘journalist’ caused uproar with many artists in Plan B’s genre, which he wrote about. If you missed the article, Paul Routledge blamed the “pernicious culture of hatred around rap music”, and how it “glorifies violence”, and “raves about drugs.” I wouldn’t want to quote anymore of it, because my IQ level may start to drop. Blaming rap music for the riots is such a ridiculous statement to make. Many people saw Paul’s words, and then wondered how he had a job in modern day journalism.

Fellow artist Professor Green spoke out on Twitter about this back then, “Yeah ban rap music, silence our voices even more.” Then following it with, “Surely this isn’t about shifting the blame, but accepting responsibility? Neither my music or that of my peers is to blame for society and its faults. We didn’t create the tiers. If you’re all so smart how is it you’re confusing understanding with justification? I’ve said from the start there’s no justifying it.”

This is then backed up with Ben Drew’s recent words about the understanding of hip-hop, “If you dont understand it, especially after hearing me speak about it now, and youve still got issues with the song, maybe youre not as educated as you think. Maybe youre educated academically, but you need to go out there and get some life experience under your belt. ‘Cause I tell you one thing, if these kids on the streets, on the estates, are so stupid, how come they can understand the outform of hip hop, and the rest of the world cant?”

Ben didn’t just go on about what was wrong with people’s views on society, he also spoke about how to begin to fixing them, notably about how there’s always someone you, as a family member, knows, that is less fortunate, “These people probably come in your house, spend time with your kids and eat at your dinner table, thats that one person that you can take under your wing, and treat as one of your own and kind of help.”  I’m not sure how much we can relate to this in my area, at least, but you’ve got to admit, it does sound like a productive method given to us by a clear-minded person who’s experienced this kind of method in his own house, and with his band members.

The setting up of an ‘umbrella charity’ also stood out as a great idea from Ben. This would allow minor charities, which have been set up by individuals within so-called ‘broken communities’, who have finally had enough of their communities way of life, and possibly through lack of support from the government, have taken it upon themselves to sort out the problems. Ben stated, “A lot of people feel theyre allowed to have an opinion, on the problems and issues we have within society, just because they pay taxes. But we all know the government dont change quite a lot of the things they promise theyre gonna change, but we still expect them to, because they take our money. If we know that, then maybe, we need to start taking responsibility ourselves. Money isnt going to change this issue. Especially when the people in control of our money and where they spend it, are politicians, because they dont understand the world theyre trying to change.”

I don’t think I’ve read or heard a more reasonable view on this subject. Now the riots have passed us, and been swept under the carpet again in the papers, journalists have now got off that high-horse – albeit moving onto another similar one with the next ugly-headed problem, possibly revolving around X-Factor judges. “This is an issue weve had in society for probably longer than 30 years, and its never been front of the queue ’till the riots happened. Thats what this song, and music video, and the film, ill MANORS needs to do, and I, as an artist need to do, because I genuinely want to change things and this is just the first step. Let me raise my point first, let me raise the issue, then if anybody wants to talk to me about how I think we can change these things, Im ready.”

Music can help these problems in society. People like Ben Drew have the ears, have the respect of the ‘hooded youths’ the media banged on about; he can create a positive wave of influence within them. Encourage them to use that spark of talent in the right way.

“Sometimes I think people may find my methods unorthodox, but they have to be unorthodox, because thats the world Im trying to challenge.”

There’s so much more I could say, so much more could’ve been quoted from Ben’s interview. He spoke pure and utter honesty, about topics which so many other artists run away from. For that, we need to congratualte him. The success of Strickland Banks pulled in people, and Ben could’ve run off and taken them with him, created pop songs with no substance. But that wouldn’t be Plan B, would it?

“That’s when I come into my own, when I see injustices happening, and I talk about the unfairness of them”

‘ill MANORS’ is set to be released March 25th, then the album on May 7th, with the film dropping on May 4th.


Mikill Pane ft. Yoshee – Kings (Official Video)

A while back, I brought you all a preview/review of Mikill Pane’s 4th EP – The Morris Dacner. And it was brilliant. I won’t write it all out again – that’d be pointless, so you can check the review and listen to each track for FREE over HERE

But today was the day when Mikill released the video for the opening (and my favourite) track, ‘Kings’. A great song in itself, but now backed up with great visuals, it’s even more engraved in my mind. Love it, and brilliant vocals from Yoshee as well!


Ed Sheeran – ‘Drunk’ + ‘Empire State Of Mind’ | Radio 1 Live Lounge

Today was Ed’s turn to visit Radio 1’s Live Lounge, in the build up to The Brit Awards next Tuesday. This was Ed’s first Live Lounge accompanied with a full band – and I think it really added to the whole performance, as these two live tracks were sublime – especially the ‘mystery cover’, which turned out to be Jay Z and Alicia Keys’ massive collaboration, ‘Empire State Of Mind’. Which, on face value, would seem like a really difficult track to properly cover, but as always Ed managed…

Listen to the 2 performances:

Oh, if you haven’t downloaded Ed’s recent collaboration EP with Yelawolf (released yesterday) then head here to DOWNLOAD FOR FREE

Ed Sheeran & Yelawolf – The Slumdon Bridge EP

In case you’ve been in exile for a few weeks, Ed Sheeran announced he had collaborated with Shady Records’ Yelawolf.

Being Ed Sheeran, he hardly made it easy – with only 10 hours to creae the 4 songs which feature on the EP.

My personal favourite is the opening track, ‘London Bridge’ – just the stripped back guitar from Ed, and Yelawolf’s very underrated storytelling style flow.

But each track offers something different, and it certainly doesn’t sound like it took 10 hours to do!

Listen to each track below, then download it for free FROM HERE.

Introducing: Kings Of The City

‘Wu Tang Clan meets The Beatles’. Big, and unique claims. But claims Kings Of The City Can easily back up.

Kings Of The City, a cross-genre collective from London, are really shaping up to have a big 2012! After a 2011 of positive reviews from RWD, 1xtra, SB.TV and the likes, and supporting the brilliant Maverick Sabre on his UK headline tour, Kings Of The City will be looking to produce a “constant flow of videos, new music and many gigs”.

Their new EP, ‘No Rules To The Game’ showcases perfectly what this lot are all about – that original, yet memorable mix of rap, rock, hip-hop and blues. What other artists could say they’ve packed all that into their recent work?

Make Me Worse – Official Video Coming Soon!

They’ve also previously produced a Covers EP. Which showed the complete versatility, covering tracks from Maverick Sabre (shown below) and Wretch 32, to Bruce Springsteen and Fleetwood Mac! But what I loved about this EP most, was the fact that every track, especially the more recent tracks, sounded like they could just be a Kings Of The City track – they made them their own.

In-between editing videos for their tour diary and singles, they managed to answer a few questions from me… Enjoy.
1) I first came across you lot through Twitter and SB.TV. Just how important have SB.TV been so far – filming for 3 of the covers from the previous EP?

We have a lot of respect for SB.TV as they have given us a platform to showcase the industry what we are about. Without a doubt, they have increased our awareness.

2) How did you all go about choosing the songs for the Covers EP, ‘cos the choices do vary a lot, from Professor Green to The White Stripes – was it like every member chose one, or a group effort?

Originally we wanted to cover classics from the past, our first was actually a live cover we do at shows of ‘I Want You’ by The Beatles. I think that was Danny’s suggestion, and the rest came from future whiskey sessions. The SB.TV covers were more a way to show what we can do with today’sUKhip hop and grime music.

3)  I had a little watch of your biography video, and there’s a lot of great comments from pretty big people, like Charlie Sloth, Marcus Barnes (music journo for The Sun/Daily Mail and others), people at RWD, that must be brilliant getting reactions like that?

We show nothing but honour and respect to those that show it back to us. That is all.

4) I know you’ve got ‘Wu Tang Clan meets The Beatles’ in the info section of your Facebook page, I mean, it must be hard to pin your music down as one genre, right?

Yeah its hard but we kind of like that to be honest, because there is a wide range of music we feel we are capable of making and eventually we want to make it all, so by not having a particular genre that we fall into it allows us that unlimited creative space to experiment musically which is how we started in the first place.

5) There’s 7 of you, so is it easy to stay focused as a group, or are there the occasional little ‘artistic disputes’?

Yeah course, we always have ‘artistic disputes’ its the same for every group or band, or atleast it should be, because we’re all striving for the best possible musical product so any disputes we do have once ironed out, which is easy because we all know each other well, the music is the one that wins in the end.

6) I’ve seen a few highlighs of a few of your shows; which one stands out above the rest?

Off tour, I think Jazz Cafe as its such a prestigious venue all of us feel very honoured to have played there on the same stage as some very talented and big artists, some of our favourite artists even.
On tour, I think for crowd reaction and love its very hard to choose but Brighton probably stands out the most as we’ve never had so many people in one room vibing off our music like that the energy was incredible.

7) The Tour Documentary’s gone up recently:

How was supporting Maverick Sabre – a guy who everyone sane knows is going to have a massive year?

Supporting Maverick Sabre was a weird experience. We never knew whether to expect an audience who adored us or an audience who didnt care at all. We ended up with some hardcore fans though and Mav is a gentleman.

8)  Your new EP, ‘No Rules To The Game’ is out now as a free download, would you say it’s your best work so far?

No rules to the game is some of our best work so far but there is some material we haven’t released yet that we’ve been holding back for future projects

9) What does 2012 have in stall for Kings Of The City?

2012 will be a year of consistency. Constant flow of videos, new music and many gigs up and down the country. Continued support from Charlie Sloth and SB.TV and playing our trademark shows.

Big thanks to Kings Of The City for the interview, sure you’ll smash 2012!

Will Ackrill: Music’s… Competition

Right, I’ve posted this competition, which must mean I’ve hit the 1,000 visits mark – which in 8 weeks, I’d say is pretty great, and thank-you if you’ve been just 1 of them!

To mark this, and the fact it’s sort of still Christmas, I’ve decided to be a bit generous.


  • Any Ed Sheeran top of choice (can’t say which one, due to size and availability obviously – but it’ll be your choice of the available ones!)
  • An Ed Sheeran wristband.
  • A ‘You Need Me’ EP, in physical CD form – featuring the original ‘You Need Me’, ‘So’, ‘Be Like You’, ‘The City’ and ‘Sunburn’. (I know they’ve been re-released recently, but I still couldn’t find the physical copy in HMV – so they’re still fairly rare!)

So the reason it’s Ed based is because it was my feature on Ed Sheeran that bumped up my visitor numbers so quickly earlier this week – also he has the best fan pages, who’ll hopefully spread the word…

So, the entering bit:

  • There’s 4 following options there, and basically if you follow one of them, you can enter once. Follow two of the options, enter twice. Follow 3 options, enter 3 times. And, yeah, in case you couldn’t see how that was developing, follow all 4 options, and you can enter 4 TIMES! So the more pages of mine you follow, more chance you have of winning!

Right, now how to enter:
Just answer this question…

  • At what venue, was Rupert Grint filmed live on stage for the ‘Lego House’ video? (HINT: It was on one of Ed’s latest tour venues…)
  • You will need to email you answers to ‘willackrillmusic@gmail.com‘ – and you’ll have to take a screenshot of the ways which you’re following me (for each time you enter)…
  • Also, don’t be t*ats about it, i.e, don’t unfollow straight after the comp. ends – it’s not exactly fair is it.

I know it might seem a bit complicated, but I’m writing this whilst a bit sleepy, but yeah. So, if you have any questions about the competition, get in contact with me somehow… there’s been lots of ways to do that posted earlier, so use one of them.

No idea how this will go down, but…

Competition will close end of New Years Day!


(You know what, if I really get some big numbers on this, I may chuck in a promise of more prizes. Maybe.)

It is open to anyone, even outside of the UK, you’d just need to say what country in your email!