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Wiley’s return is no mere victory lap


Release date: 13 January 2017
Wiley Godfather
06 January 2017, 16:22 Written by Jacob Brookman
With grime's explosion over the past 18 months, Wiley has been justifiably keen to remind listeners that he is the genre's spiritual godfather. As such, his 11th studio album could have been a bit of a victory lap; a bloated, collab-laden love-in for the rapper-producer.

Instead, it is an album of elevated focus, with Wiley’s bars pushed to the front, and production provided by a host of innovators; relative newcomers Preditah and Swifta Beater, alongside grime veteran, Rude Kid.

Highlights include the brilliant "Speakerbox", where rapid bars are matched with synthetic games console bass-lines and squeaky, kinetic drum-loops. Wiley’s rhymes remain triumphant, with just the right level of self-awareness to keep the egotism from getting tedious: "I've achieved tings I was dreamin' of / Step on the stage, start reelin' off [...] Do my ting like Marley and Peter Tosh / It's Eskiboy in your speakerbox."

Elsewhere, "Joe Bloggs" and the bombastic "Can’t Go Wrong" marry menacing strings with brass samples and more of that squeaky percussion. Curiously, the blipping synth cow-bell sound recalls the '70s disco of Anita Ward or Boney M. Here it is deployed to give the music a relentlessly bouncy, fun quality amid the sound of gunfire and occasional death threats. The effect is one part intimidating, one part ludicrous, and it has a spiritual lineage that recalls the Sex Pistols as much as the Wu-Tang Clan.

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