The self-prescribed 'King of Radio 1' is moving in a new direction. In the wake of his smash-hit, Wearing My Rolex, Wiley's latest release, 'Grime Wave', is a fine exposition of what Wiley himself has described as 'commercial grime'. The appeal to a wider market is evidence of an artist trying to claw back missed opportunities, of a Wiley engaged in his own 'Race Against Time', and in the process showing the detractors that grime music offers more than the perceived and abundant stereotypes.
'Grime Wave' shows a Wiley that firmly pushes his own agenda, carrying the scene with his own manifesto of promise with the first hook, that he personally has to 'make sure grime stays, one day you'll see grime pays'. The title-track sets for what is to follow, an attempt to make a more palatable grime that can 'pay'. While this invariably means experimentation, the mixtape does not descend into a hot-potch of different elements, and the faith with the more conventional lyrical content keeps this release rooted in the underground. Locality is stressed, and the insular Bow E3 has been left behind for a representation of Living in London. The title tells its own story, as does Local Lad, and keeping things close to home is reflected in the features on this CD. Pay As You Go and Roll Deep veteran Flow Dan is seemimgly omnipresent, with the youngers forcing themselves into the reckoning, such as South London's Messy and Roll Deep upcomer Brazen. Jookie Mundo manages to squirm onto the last two Wiley releases in a row, and Cookie proves he's still alive on 'Anything is Possible', which also features Boy Better Know's Frisco.
Wiley tries to reach out from below, and he does with some success, partly opening the door yet willingly keeping it ajar. The highlight for newer fans is If You're Going Out I'm Going Out Too, a tune with a nice vibe that is indicative of a newer sound. Creditably, the track, while adding diversity, does not dominate, being wedged between underground favourites Local Lad and Grime Kid. The CD's emphasis on hooks serves its purpose, and the structure of the songs on here are tight enough, even if at times they seem a little strained and manufactured. The door that has been partially opened allows a glimpse of Wiley as war veteran, being unable to resist an exuberant war dub in Fire Ain't Burning No More, to pledging 'if Kane tried to war I'd merk him on sight', in addition to 'if any of them man are at the shop I'll run up in the shop like "rudeboy open the till"' on Where You Gonna Run Too.
Bar the mellow Sky is Falling, the production is strictly Eskibeat, with the recently successful duo of Wiley and Bless Beats shouldering most of the job in hand. Maniac only has one track on this release, but in Grime Kid it is easily one of the best on the CD. Fire Ain't Burning No More has a bold bass that at least partly extinguishes Fire Camp, and the minimalist vocals emphasise the self-assurance of another Wiley production, Badman Talking.
Sell-out claims, along with Wiley losing hunger according to a current crew member, are completely unfounded in light of this release. What is most striking is a Wiley who is more than on point, firing rounds of bars on Local Lad , Grime Kid, and Where You Gonna Run Too, with a flow on Fire Ain't Burning No More that puts Little Nasty in his place.
In the Wiley cannon, 'Grime Wave' is certainly up there. While the songs are familiar, it is more than a decent effort and one which anticipates well for 'Race Against Time', while more than appealing to a new fanbase. Nine months and counting.