WILEY MIGHT HAVE A NEW ALBUM TO PLUG, BUT ON HIS FIRST AUSTRALIAN VISIT HE’S MORE INTERESTED IN DROPPING SCIENCE ON THE UNEARTHED ESKI-CULTURE OF GRIME.
WILEY interviewed @ 12.30 AEST – Wednesday 14th January, 2009
For Street Press Australia & Rip2Shredz Press
Words by RIP NICHOLSON
Images courtesy of Spencer Murphy
While its roots lay soiled in with garage music in the United Kingdom, the culture of grime fuses elements of house and trance with the jaws of hip hop biting the beats. Wiley the Grime Kid has furthered the movement again by developing the ‘Eskimo’ genre, which branches away from the garage blueprint and digs into much heavier layered beats with venomous lyrics applied.
He’s determined to spread this culture through the world, and his latest album See Clear Nowhas the right amount of commercial sheen to aid his quest. When quizzed on whether the title refers to him reaching the summit of his success and having the clarity to dictate his own artistic direction, he opens up on a personal side.
“I was clownin’ with everything I was doin’,” Wiley confesses down the line from Perth straight off a plane from Singapore. “But when I stepped out of it and spent time with my children, I realised what I’m on Earth for. This is who I am, what I do and I have gotta do it.”
With this enlightenment, the clarity of reason behind the motives of this album becomes more apparent – it shows just how accurate his aim at tailoring to the pop market has been. A legend in the pirate radio underground, Wiley made the conscious effort to billboard his Eski brand by shapeshifting to suit the mainstream demand. For one thing he pulled in Mark Ronson to produce the project, an undeniably shrewd move given the cred points currently dripping off the producer.
See Clear Now has a real crisp sonic bite – layered with electro pop and dense hip hop beats, the aftertaste is a party. With overtones of late 80s fashion in swing, the timing was Swiss, with the disco kids and the hats-to-the-back crowd now biting these throwback bickies and nodding for hip hop. It is however the gateway drug to the true Eski-sound he has crafted over the years, and Wiley is here to hand out the sample bag of that dope East End upper – spreading the gospel of grime so to speak.
“Obviously Grime is quite harsh and it’s underground. Like, we can flip it in different ways. I think eventually it will get there. It will get there as long as good songs are coming from it, well thought out and have a strong chance of charting,” Wiley predicts. “There is only so long you can stay in the UK for, drum’n’bass people are all over the world. The innovators and groove riders have to go around the world and they give their fans what they want. That’s what we really haven’t done properly. It’s only Dizzee Rascal who has been everywhere. If we were using our brains ages ago we may have been a lot further. We are still gonna do it, however we should have done it earlier. At least I woke up before I was 30 and got myself together.”
The Eskiboy kid from the E3 Bow section of East London – home of the ‘Wilehouse’ – realises this latest album will not garner the usual back-patting from his legion back home, but part of his maturity has seen him transcend trying to appease the voice of his breeding ground. “The grime kids don’t want it, but it doesn’t matter because I’ve done a lot for grime anyway,” Wiley says, adding further justification for his new found poppy direction. “[Grime kids] moan but I have two children so I can’t worry about that. The truth is I’ve got a lot of grime music I want to showcase, but because this album is current I have to perform and show them also that I do grime – to show I am not one-dimensional. I’d rather put vocals to a rock band.”
Album track ‘Ca$h In My Pocket’ saw Wiley employ the services of Daniel Merriweather on the hook with producer Mark Ronson behind the boards, and the result beautifully blends the heavy Eski routine into lighter dance. “I thought that song with Daniel Merriweather was something different.
“Yeah I thought that song with Daniel Merriweather did a good job. So when I heard that outfit I thought it was something different for me. It got a vibe from me, a vibe from him and Ronson. So that was a good thing. I think it will be good mainstream over here.” Also ‘Wearing My Rolex’ produced by Bless Beats also relaxed the format of grime to become a chart smash across the UK. Both singles fly in the face of defiance and throw one up to the supposed cash-crisis we’re in.
The title track ‘See Clear Now’ makes for a very smooth, almost radio-friendly posse cut featuring Kano and Scorcher. The pulsing synths are primed for club rotation. The sidewalk-scorcher off the album, “Summertime” with Jake Gosling behind the boards is very sample heavy but still manages to capture the feel-good blueprint suitable for this hot-ass January heat in Australia.
Wiley reminisced down the paths he took opening his production CV with UKG’s ‘Nicole Groove’ and his influence with Pay As U Go Cartel, Boy Better Know and as a founding member of MOBO accredited posse, Roll Deep since 2002 – a platform he took alongside Dizzee Rascal to harness the talents he bears today. He is a man who stands today with the utmost respect from his peers and fans alike. No matter the dips and turns he makes to earn his way, he will always be the premier Eskiboy.