A key player in U.K. grime, Wiley is often referred to as the Godfather of the genre. His particular style ”Eski” or “Eskibeat” marked the move from UK Garage that once dominated the London Underground to a new, MC-led style that first dominated pirate radio and later took the UK by storm.
Producer and MC Wiley came up as a member of Pay as U Go Cartel, and was later a founding member of Roll Deep Crew. Much of his most crucial early work as a producer came out as white-label vinyl releases and free downloads. His notoriety sprung from his underground activity, his sidewinder or early rinse sets with Slimzee, his lyrical clashes on air with other artists, his MC lucidity and his legendary output, there is no argument to the fact that he has been the longstanding figure-head of the Grime culture.
Over the years his consistent work rate has grown him a huge and varied back catalogue, dabbling with releases on independent and major record labels alike and running a stylistic gauntlet from underground to pop. No matter what musical direction he’s travelled production-wise, Wiley is in his very essence, a living legend and an ongoing inspiration within the scene.
His role in bringing through younger artists like Tinchy Stryder and Dizzee Rascal marked him from early as a key a&r within the sound, as did his notorious Eskimo Dance raves that provided the live epicentre for core-grime fan base. Eskimo still run today and grows from strength to strength via the multi all star line ups but the unique element where the biggest and newest names platform together to spit best bars for biggest crowd-response, the mic passing from hand to hand.
Grime has journeyed from underground, through pop to the more purist output of today’s that’s finally engaging on a global platform. Falling once from the epicentre of the British Industry’s attention to a perceived backwater-status, the fanbase kept growing under the radar regardless, with a particular penchant for the truer, less commercial strands of the sound and a return to a DIY outlook where the major label is no longer the key to the hearts of the audiences. The internet has had a major role to play in the liberation of the culture, the side stepping of the long-dominant but now fading power of the major label and allowed core artists, Wiley, Skepta, JME, Frisco, Chip, Ghetts and many others to put out the music they want, how they want and when they want with palpable reaction from fans.
Heavily affiliated with grime label and collective BBK (Boy Better Know) Wiley also has his own brand CTA (Chasing The Art). Both encapsulate the self-definition within grime to create and propagate its own model, both in creative and industry terms.