“Grime is the game and I can’t give it up/Use the sounds that producers won’t touch,” [lastfm link_type=""]Wiley[/lastfm] ostensibly brags in his song “Money Man” from his newest album Evolve or Be Extinct on Big Dada.
Wiley, born Richard Kylea Cowie in Londontown, is not just one of those bigmouth Brit grime youngsters full of half-baked bravado. Wiley is action-oriented and deep in the game at a wise, wily 32-years-old.
So deep (and so prolific) that the self-proclaimed “inspiration to the UK grime scene,” has put out three full-albums of his “eskibeat” in the last seven months.
Staying fresh even in the mainstream is hard, but Wiley is truly striving to “evolve” in the highly-underground genre that is the UK grime scene or become, as he says, extinct.
This album, released a few days ago on Wiley’s birthday, jostles the listener with dark grime hooks, slinky breakbeats, discombobulated dancehall, a wet slathering of red-hot jungle-bass sex, jittery electro, and a compelling sense of humor that cunningly exposes part of the British culture.
And then there is that unspoken overarching theme of the alienesque and unknown that takes Wiley to a whole other level of post-modernist musical deconstruction and unsyncopated patois.
“I’m a weirdo, but I’m not a bipolar,” claims Wiley in his song “I’m A Weirdo” and despite the disparate musical mash-up of his sound, we are wont to believe him given the ingenious fluidity Wiley can make out of crunchy Caribbean 2-step and sloshed-out ’80s-style video game blips.
Even as Wiley raps in “Scar,” “record labels are trying to control me…I’m record of the year, you’re jackal of the year,” American hip-hop could never be exactly like this: jangly, distorted political prophet-teering in a world of clear-cut, cred-heavy profiteering.
In “Can I Get A Taxi?,” Wiley shows off this sense of class divide in the not-so-simple ordering of a taxi in London, at one point rapping off a posh-accented monologue from the eyes of the London upper-class.
“I read the Guardian/Observer/Evening Standard,” raps Wiley. “I see MP’s on telly trying to reach my standard/Truth is, I’m such an educated man/So let me give you all the education plan/infants, juniors, college/university, bowl of porridge/served with toast if you like/butter/I’m in my own house trying to walk through all this clutter.”
Wiley gives the impression through his music on Evolve Or Be Extinct that life is like some absurdist video game, a musical Frogger of sorts where the beasts (or beats) are coming at you in unpatterned jumble and you all you can do is dance, drink, “skank” with your “bird,” and survive in a ganja-cloud of dark humor.
The ravelicious “Boom Blast” is an obvious statement to that, both patronizing that hard-paryting mentality and slyly persuading you to become a patron at the same time with lyrics like ”I give you that feeling/make you wanna rave it out and touch that ceiling/we got four hours to go and you’re not dreaming.”
Because, indeed, Wiley does give us that “feeling,” especially with the bad boy bird-whistling on the bass-heavy “Link Up” and the rather awesome “line-dancing-at-a-bowling-alley” feel of dancehall-ish gem, “Skanking.”
We’ll happily move our feet like rhythmic robots in Wiley’s wilded-out, Wild West-style futuristic world.
”This is just an album that I made/onto the next one.” And we’ll still be moving, waiting for the next Wiley album. Even as the listener, Wiley inspires us to Evolve Or Be Extinct.
[lastfm]Wiley[/lastfm] – Evolve Or Be Extinct (Big Dada)
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1. “Welcome to Zion”
2. “Evolve Or Be Extinct”
3. “Link Up”
4. “Boom Blast”
6. “I’m A Weirdo”
8. “Can I Have a Taxi Please?”
9. “Miss You”
10. “Money Man”
13. “This Is Just An Album”