Wiley: Grime Time

“It ain’t all tea cups, red telephone boxes and Buckingham Palace out here,” Dizzee Rascal spat when addressing the myth around the idyllic life in the United Kingdom. There is a darker, dirtier side that outsiders may not know about when it comes to the UK and nothing epitomizes this secreted aspect more than Grime […]

“It ain’t all tea cups, red telephone boxes and Buckingham Palace out here,” Dizzee Rascal spat when addressing the myth around the idyllic life in the United Kingdom. There is a darker, dirtier side that outsiders may not know about when it comes to the UK and nothing epitomizes this secreted aspect more than Grime music. Born out of a combination of Hip-Hop, 2-step Garage, Drum & Bass and Dancehall, Grime music has seized the minds of a generation of youth who live lives far from what is portrayed on the postcard.No one comes close to embodying what Grime is about more than Wiley. After coming through the Drum & Bass and Garage scenes, Richard “Wiley” Cowie helped create not only a music scene, but has laid the foundations of a whole movement that has seen him secure various record deals, as well as bring through talent such as his Roll Deep and Boy Better Know crews and he even discovered a young Dizzee Rascal before they parted on bad terms. The 29 year-old MC is finally tasting mainstream success with “Wearing My Rolex.” The song shuns Wiley’s grimier background in favor of a more commercial electro sound, which has been A-listed on BBC Radio (a surefire way of guaranteeing a hit single), as well as topping the iTunes video chart. So does this signal a new path for the UK vet? Wiley explains why he will never turn his back on a scene he has helped build.AllHipHop.com: So Wiley, there’s a huge hype on the “Wearing My Rolex” single right now, how’s it all going?Wiley: I’ve been trying to work on the second single [“Rolex Sweep”] so we don’t lose the momentum. That’s in Skepta’s name, so we’ll do that on this label and then I’ve gotta get the Boy Better Know album [VIP] together so we’re gonna turn this Wiley situation into a Boy Better Know album situation via mine and Skepta’s singles, because Boy Better Know’s quite a powerful thing at the moment and I didn’t wanna go all the way on a major on my own.AllHipHop.com: How come you don’t wanna go it alone?Wiley: I look at it like that sometimes, thinking I can go through the door on my own, but why would I want to? I don’t really want to. Whether it’s me with Skepta and JME for Boy Better Know, or if it’s Roll Deep. Dizzee is on his own a lot. That’s not really me, I’ll be honest.AllHipHop.com: The label are saying they’re hoping for top 10? So that’s a good look…Wiley: [Interrupts] Yeah, no I don’t care, I don’t care. Yeah I don’t care, I don’t care. It’s not Grime is it? I don’t care. It’s just something I done on the 18th of January because I was using my brain and it’s turned out that it could be a top 10, it’s gonna make me that money and put me in the top position but then the next time you see me with a Wiley album it will be so Grime. Grime in the charts. That’s what I’m aiming at.AllHipHop.com: So you’re not that bothered about “Wearing My Rolex”? You don’t seem excited by it doing well.Wiley: I am excited, but I don’t want people to think, “Ahh that’s all you can do now.” ‘Cause I will shut down as soon as you think that. That’s not all I can do. I can do anything I want now. Like when I hear Jay-Z on any tempo, he’s still the same person and he’s still Hip-Hop. That’s what I’m trying to master now before I reach 30 so no one can’t say, “That’s not Grime.” That’s what time I’m at.AllHipHop.com: Did you intentionally set out to make something that was going to be accepted for the charts?Wiley: No this is what it is. Bless Beats made that beat with the sample in it and he’s played it to me a couple of times and I could see some money in that tune. So I’ve did that, sent it out to the DJs. After about two to three days later it was getting played on the radio. Four to five days later it was getting played a bit more. After about seven days the label approached me about wanting to sign it. So then we went to the office, got that signed and since then I’ve just been making more Grime. AllHipHop.com: Yeah you’ve got the underground album Grime Wave dropping next month and you’ve also stated that you’re working on a project called Race Against Time. What can you tell us about them both?Wiley: Grime Wave is a project I have been working on since my last album [Playtime Is Over] come out, Race Against Time is what I started when I realised, that Grime Wave could have been my [equivalent of Dizzee Rascal’s] Boy In Da Corner.  But regardless it still needed to come out, so I decided on 12 tunes to go on Grime Wave, moved a few of the best songs on to Race Against Time, and then just started making loads of new ones. So now Race Against Time is 13 Grime tunes. 13 good Grime tunes, that if I do ‘em properly, mix ‘em all down and get all the right people on ‘em, it could go like that (raises arm to the sky in a rocket motion). But I can’t stop making tunes for it until it gets signed ‘cause the sound may change.AllHipHop.com: How do you feel about the Grime scene at the moment. A few people have even been saying ‘Grime is dead’?Wiley: The “Grime is dead” thing is just a trick ‘cause obviously it will flush out anyone who doesn’t wanna do it anymore. If you’re in Grime and suddenly everyone says, “Grime is dead, I wanna go Funky [House],” then everyone will go Funky, but the people who don’t think it’s dead will remain and then it’ll just be all the good people and no rubbish people and that’s when it’ll go even furtherAllHipHop.Com: How fast do you see Grime progressing?Wiley: Not very fast. Hip-Hop’s taken 30 years to get to where it is. Grime’s a similar thing so you know it’s gonna take a bit of time, but the day is very near. You won’t see a big Grime concert in Wembley yet. Like there could be a concert right now, you wouldn’t have to call it Grime, but it could have a powerful 30 minutes from Kano, a powerful 30 minutes from Lethal, a powerful 30 minutes from Dizzee and a powerful 30 minutes from Wiley. Our own Summer Jam. Skepta as well. There’s at least five or six artists who could give a powerful show. But obviously the different managers don’t want it and it’s all silly and all the dreams that we as the artists dream of individually like, “Rah imagine if we was all on the stage one after another.”AllHipHop.com: Don’t you feel like you, as Wiley, have the power to do that?Wiley: No. I’ve brought people together through spirit and blood but I can’t ring Dizzee now and be like, “You know what Dyl [Dizzee], we’re gonna do a concert next month you put 20 down, I’ll put 20, Kano puts 20 or whatever, lets go and do this.” Cause each person has been put into their own cocoon to believe that they are the best, there is no one else above them and no one can chat to them, which is very bad, ‘cause even though we’ve all thought that at times, as you get older you will sit down and think. I think, “Why ain’t I done a tune with Dylan [Dizzee]?” Back in the day I wasn’t even ready to do a tune with him ‘cause he was more of a songwriter, he was much better than me. But today if he said to me, “Come on Wiley, let’s do a tune, write a verse.” I’d write a verse to match his verse and the song would be the best. What I never had then, he had it, then he gave it to me, but we weren’t together anymore. So that’s mad. So now I’m like, “Dizzee I can do what you was trying to show me, but you’re not here.” So now I’m just doing it with other people in the scene, when in actual fact if we was in the same studio it’d be the best thing I swear, ‘cause I really could not do it back then, I could have, but I just was lazy or something. AllHipHop.com: Do you think it could ever happen?Wiley: I’m 29 so he must be about 23 now. So time does pass. You can’t hate someone forever, especially if you ain’t had a real reason to fall out. There’s people I’ve hated, then one day I’ve seen them again and it’s nothing. Hopefully that can happen ‘cause I want him to know that, before he was trying to show me the thing and now I know. It’s mad.AllHipHop.Com: Do you think the amount of negative things said in Grime songs holds it back from getting to the mainstream?Wiley: I always understood that the only way forward was being positive. I’ve never seen negative people get far, that’s why even if I’m on this tune and I’ve spoken about someone trying to pull a gun out on me and trying to shoot me, I’ll try and mask it so that I don’t sound ignorant with it. My dad taught me that still. And a lot of people lie. But you know what though, the world is a lie. You can tell when someone’s lying. If a boy’s on a track talking about whatever, you and I both know when he’s lying or not. You can tell. Look at Eminem. He’s really good. But you know in your heart, for him to be that good, he isn’t the murderer he says he is on his tracks ‘cause he’s concentrating on being a good MC. Obviously a mass murderer would be good at murdering, or in jail.AllHipHop.com: And though you do have ‘street’ lyrics, the majority of them relate to experiences you’ve been through, rather than just what might be going on in the hood.Wiley: Again, this is Dizzee bruv. Dizzee taught me one thing; “If you’re not talking about something that you’re going through, or where you’re coming from, then what are you talking about?” That is why Boy In Da Corner was what it was. It’s the real reason why grime was accepted the first time. It was a very strong, detailed, powerful, meaningful album bruv and I listen to it some days, and I always think to myself, “I’ve never made my own Boy In Da Corner but with Race Against Time I am gonna now.”AllHipHop.com: What do you think about the latest wave of artists in the scene? At one point you were putting together a collective for your Eskibeat label, but nothing seems to have come to fruition. Wiley: I believe that Ice Kid is very powerful. He could sit on that computer and make a beat, he can write songs, he’s very smart, he can do anything and I look at him and think, “He’s the one.” Ice Kid, Chipmunk and Maverick; them three kids. I’ve got love for them ….and Little Dee. But now I’ve sent Little Dee to Roll Deep so he’s with the big boys where he should be, but those three kids are special. That is why I tried to put my heart and soul into them three. But what happened was other people got into their heads. Which is not bad, cause other people got into my head and that is why I am Wiley today. So they’ll learn as well. AllHipHop.com: Do you ever feel like a talent scout for the scene?Wiley: You could say that. I’m always looking for new talent to share energy with. But a few people have said that’s the reason for my downfall cause if you’re always looking for new talent, it means that sometimes you’re not concentrating on yourself so you need to balance it.AllHipHop.com: I think there was a time when you were very wary of what was going on around you and you felt like a target almost. Is that still the case?Wiley: I don’t look over my shoulder anymore. I used to. Now I just think that life is life and whatever will happen will happen. And if you steer clear, it won’t happen. AllHipHop.com: So what are you working on apart from your solo projects?Wiley: The Roll Deep second album is almost done. We’ve got 19 tunes that have been recorded silently. For the Boy Better Know album, we’ve got about eight tunes done, and we’re gonna go for a 12 track thing with elements of me, JME, Skepta and Frisco, but that’s an album that can go. It’s fresh and hasn’t got any thing negative associated with it. Roll Deep’s had some issues, but nothing too tough. They’ve sold probably 90,000 albums which is more than I’ve sold as Wiley, so they’ll be liable to get another situation going, and there’s a few singles in that project.AllHipHop.com: And finally, who are your top 5 grime MCs?Wiley: Skepta, JME, Kano, Dizzee Rascal and Ice Kid AllHipHop.Com: Any last words?Wiley: Grime Wave is out May 5th. Follow what’s going on. Grime will get there one day.