After much promo and a very lengthy wait, grime’s most fascinating character steps up to present his latest in a long catalogue of releases that spans more than a decade. There can be no doubt that Wiley has had an fascinating career, he’s forged a genre that is doing better than it has ever done now, he’s had number one singles, he’s had plenty of beefs, he’s been tangled in many a controversy and he’s done all that while enthralling, captivating and capturing the imaginations of anyone who’s ever paid attention to him.
‘Godfather’ is an album that has an impressive array of features scattered across no less than 17 tracks. Across each track, Wiley sounds like an artist full of conviction, he sounds rejuvenated in an era of grime that’s healthier than it’s ever been before. Wiley has released plenty of music over the years but in a time where grime’s stature is growing by the minute, it’s very easy for an artist to get left behind if they lose their mojo. Wiley however certainly hasn’t lost his, in fact, for this album’s sake, he’s redefined it to include some of the same eski energy that made his legendary productions from the early 00s so revered, the spirit of Eskiboy is very much apparent in ‘Godfather’.
‘Can’t Go Wrong’ is exactly the sort of rip-roaring track that demonstrates grime’s authenticity and greater support, something that cannot be ignored any longer. With the booming bass and hard-hitting strings on production, ‘Can’t Go Wrong’ is not only an anthem but a sign of clarity. Wiley is widely known as a pioneer of UK urban music, however he hasn’t always been fully comfortable in his own skin throughout his lengthy career. ‘Can’t Go Wrong’ and the album as a whole however paints Wiley as an artist much more accepting of his own position as an icon in underground music.
With an album made an by an icon, it needs some equally as iconic features; P Money’s absolutely murders his verse in the remix of ‘P Money’, Devlin partners Wiley with real vigour on ‘Bring Them All / Holy Grime’, Ghetts’ seamless flow and bars are heavily prominent in ‘Bang’, the irresistible presence of Newham Generals & the unorthodox yet cutthroat President T yarn tales from grime’s “old school” in ‘Joe Bloggs’ while there’s a definite Roll Deep and Boy Better Know feel to this album with members from both camps scattered across the album, seeing all these heavyweight names feature surely shows the level of respect Wiley has gained over the years but taking all those features aside, when it comes to the man himself, it’s clear that Wiley has been on an eventful journey to be in the place he is now as the ‘Godfather’. Take ‘My Direction’ for example, it’s a track that themes his roots from grime’s early days when he was notorious for clashing MCs, Wiley has that warlord mentality, he is confident, he is fearless, he is a titan that fears no war, the fact he has Devlin, Ghetts and Lethal Bizzle, all MCs that have clashed with Wiley in the past on this album is a triumphant irony. At the same though, ‘U Were Always, Pt 2’, a follow up to the track ‘U Were Always’ which Wiley released back in 2009 is a wifey riddim, giving the album a softer touch. Wiley is also seen as a mentor, a guy who MCs can credit for them entering the grime scene so to have Chip and Ice Kid, two MCs he famously brought through on the Tim Westwood show on Radio One back in the day featuring on ‘On This’ represents a sly blast from the past, Ice Kid in particular is an interesting feature considering he’s an artist schooled in the arts of being as unfathomable as Wiley himself.
‘Godfather’ is an album with plenty of variety but that doesn’t necessary mean that it flows effortlessly from one track to another. There’s no doubt the tracks don’t lack quality but ‘Godfather’ isn’t the sort of album where fans will have an universal liking to all of the tracks, one track on here can easily reverberate with one fan but another fan listening to the same track may feel very different about it. As there are so many artists that feature on this album, you have to consider that tracks have to be right to their certain styles and not everyone is going to like hearing so many different styles in the same project.
Despite being one of most known faces in grime, Wiley is an enigma and a pretty emphatic one at that. His notorious penchant for not turning up to events or cutting his appearances at them short form part of his legacy in the game, he’s in a league of his own when it comes to his ability to be so unpredictable, you don’t know what his next move will be. Trying to unlock his mental and musical psyche over the years is like trying to solve a Rubik Cube behind your back whilst blindfolded, to say his career has been puzzling is an understatement considering the man is arguably grime’s answer to Where’s Wally. Considering he lives in Cyprus now and according to him, he’s reached the end of his career in terms of proving anything, perhaps it’s fitting that the album is called ’Godfather’. In the current circumstances, the album is alluded to be Wiley’s swansong in his career but then again, Wiley is a master of reinventing himself so don’t take his words too seriously. For a man who has been the centre of attention for so long, who knows what he’ll do next, I’m not even sure if the man himself completely knows what his next steps will be.
‘Godfather’ is available now to buy, go cop it.