Fact: Wiley should be much bigger than he actually is. A forefather of the grime scene, many of his associates have led to huge mainstream success – Dizzee Rascal, Tinchy Strider, and even young up-and-comers such as Chipmunk. Wiley has had has fair slice of pop success (most notably ‘Wearing My Rolex’) but not nearly as much as is deserved. Then again, if prolificacy leads to dilution, then Wiley could well have shot himself in the foot with the eleven zip folders of two hundred tracks that he notoriously gave away free on his Twitter.
Whatever the case, the defiantly labelled ‘100% Publishing’ is solidly written, produced, vocalled and recorded entirely by Wiley himself – read into the motives of this obsession as you will. The highlights on this album can easily stand proud alongside any previous output.
Particular highlights include the album’s title track, ‘Wise Man And His Words’, and ‘Boom Boom Da Na’, whose quickfire raps over half-step rhythms pay homage to his pirate radio roots. ‘I Just Woke Up’ and lead-single ‘Numbers In Action’ show off Wiley’s light-hearted humour and dexterity as a lyricist. But there’s definitely a couple tracks the album could have done without: ‘Talk About Life’ and ‘Pink Lady’ are pretty thinly veiled attempts at sugary-pop soaked female-friendly R‘n’B numbers. This aside, the album is a fine document of why Wiley was, is, and will continue to be such a cornerstone of the grime scene.
Words by RAJ CHAUDHURI