Grime undoubtedly had its most successful year in 2016, with numerous MCs and producers becoming household names throughout the UK and beyond. Artists such as Skepta, Stormzy, Chip – you know, the usual crowd – all had very productive years, so much so that the original heavyweight was almost sidelined in grime’s rapid rise. However, as we turn the dial to 2017, the original godfather returns with a serious statement of intent.
It’s no secret amongst my peers that I am a massive Wiley fan. For me, the guy is the original pioneer of grime, both as an MC and a producer. Projects such as Treddin On Thin Ice, Grime Wave, Playtime Is Over and most importantly the Tunnel Vision series define what grime really is to me: stripped back, high energy, lively underground music. Nobody does it better than Eski-Boy. Wiley is also credited as the originator of the ‘Eskimo’ sound, which is just as prominent within the scene now as it was around its conception, even more so in fact.
The reason I feel that Godfather truly stands alone amongst recent grime albums is that it’s the definition of what a grime album should be. To start, let’s graze through a few of the immediate heavy hitters, such as Speakerbox. Grime vocal tracks are often slated for being unfriendly to dancefloors, however, this track kind of slaps that idea right in the ear. The same goes for the high energy sounds of Can’t Go Wrong which was put out about a month prior to the album’s release.
Moving the conversation forward to a more in-depth look at the production aspects of the project, Wiley recruited a top draw selection of producers in Rude Kid, Darq E Freaker, Swifta Beater, Teeza, Kid D, JLSXND7RS and more. Every track on the album just sits perfectly, nothing is overproduced or infused with standardised trap beats. Every tune has a unique bounce to it, especially tracks like Bang (featuring Ghetts), Back With A Banger and My Direction.
On top of the production, the vocal features make each track perfect. Again, the album is absolutely stacked. Let’s highlight On This which is reminiscent of that famous Westwood session from way back when. Wiley is joined by original EskiBeat records members Chip and Ice Kid along with OGz veteran Little Dee, nobody would have expected to see these four on a track together, but again, it works because it’s a straight grime sheller. Some of the other high-profile features include JME, Lethal Bizzle, Newham Generals, J2K, Flowdan, P Money, Scratchy, to be honest, I could go on forever, and I’d enjoy it.
Overall the album is just classic Wiley and that couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s not brash to say that a lot of UK music fans had written Wiley off last year due to a lack of consistent material. This album puts those worries to rest instantaneously. Take Laptop for instance, the track is literally pays homage to his production laptop, who else could really do that and still be taken seriously? Even ‘Lurid’ sees that familiar nasal Wiley hook we got so used to during grime’s last renaissance period some five or six years ago.
In a time where grime has now certified itself as one of the most popular genres in the UK, THIS is the album the scene needed to keep it grounded in its musical values. Nothing needs to be overproduced, nothing needs to be thought out to the point that it feels unnatural. This is the project that I feel Wiley has been long overdue, to reannounce himself as the guy at the top of the tree.
You can grab the album from iTunes HERE