I’m not sure whether to tag this LargeUp, Okayfuture or UKplayer, but when it comes to the innovative Wiley, just label it tough. A pioneer in both lyrical styles and production, Wiley arguably set the template for the last 10+ years of urban music out of the UK, a towering influence denoted in the tag “Godfather of Grime” by which he’s recognized in London. Noted music journalist Marvin Sparks (among other things he famously interviewed dancehall hero Vybz Kartel for MTV) sat down with Wiley to talk grimey. Get a taste below and read the full Q&A at LargeUp.
LU: How would you describe grime to those unfamiliar with it?
Wiley: Grime is very similar to punk rock. It’s noisy—less noisy than dubstep—but it’s got a voice. Dubstep, to me, hasn’t got a voice. It has people that the producers put on songs, but them MC’s are not the leaders in that scene, producers and DJ’s are. Grime is very hip hop, reggae-oriented, but it’s very different to rap although it’s quite similar. In grime, people will be spitting at that tempo (generally around 135-140bpm) and that’s it. Hip hop have gone past all the tempo and what people wanna call barriers and said, “This is hip hop” in America. However, over here, people go mad saying it’s this and it’s that, but really, it is the product of hip hop and ragga.
If you get technical, you can see it stems from garage. The other day I was having a debate on Twitter talking with someone and they [said], “You owe it to So Solid” and I was like this person has got half a point if I wasn’t [already] making music when I first listened to So Solid. By the time I heard So Solid, I’d made [many] tunes. I was always going to do that, whether I heard So Solid or not. I do think that grime stems from garage and those things, but I do think people are born and whatever they do will be a fusion of genres.