Following the release of gritty UK film ill Manors, writer and director Ben “Plan B” Drew switches hats and resumes the role of chart-topping singer and rapper for his new album, which doubles up as the film’s official soundtrack.

Revered fellow East London lyricist Kano [who’s been doing some acting of his own lately in the BAFTA-nominated tv drama Top Boy] is among the select number of guests collaborating on the ill Manors album, with a reflective track titled “Live Once” – and gives SoulCulture the low-down on his approach to the track…

Recorded just days before the album was sent off for mastering, Kano approached his verse, “from the perspective of someone from the gutter, against all odds and isn’t expected to ever make it out. No family money. No role model. No fancy education.”

He explains, “Then it becomes about letting people know that it is possible to succeed. ‘Take it from me, I’m living proof’ kind of thing.”

“We didn’t throw no hats in the air / but man was in the studio with hats and them snares.”

“I ended the verse by touching on how some people from the outside looking in view us. The ignorant kind that don’t know what it’s like growing up underprivileged. The ‘oh they all got Nike trainers on, they can’t be that poor,’ but would never trade places, kind of people.

“And what I’m then saying is: small wins, like a plasma TV, will never equate to the head start that the lucky ones get in life. Because that hood, defeatist mentality that a lot of young people develop will be a disadvantage forever.

“It’s important for people from the areas we grew up in to hear these songs with these messages. And also, it’s important for Hip Hop music in it’s current climate.

He concludes, “Making it rain on them hoes is great for escapism but people need some real talk and some optimism banging through the speakers every now and then.”

Listen To: Plan B f/ Kano – “Live Once”

The album ill Manors is out now, through 679 Recordings.