Wiley is (apparently) revered as the ‘Godfather of Grime’ – Grime being a style of rap, the characteristics of which are a sonically clean, minimal and sharp approach, and primarily originating in London’s East End. On the second track ‘Bow E3’, Wiley tells us “I am so Bow E3 you would not believe it”. I believe it all right, and I’m thinking Grime is the best thing to come out of the East End since Frank Lampard did the decent thing and defected to a team with scope. ‘Fly Boy’ is an almost avant-garde patchwork of sharp, sharp beats and guest Scorcher’s rhymes. ‘Baby Girl’ displays his enthusiasm for the craft, opining that his daughter “might wanna be a nurse or a rep, but I would lock that off because music’s best”.
‘Letter to Dizzee’ is an almost heartfelt request to end the ‘beef’ between the two grimey chaps, Mr Rascal being a protégé of Wiley. ‘Gangsters’ is a clever, razor-sharp and terrifying description of a life dominated by… gangsters. “I don’t mean TV, blood, I mean real life gangsters”. Gulp. And here is where things should have finished. The next 7 tracks serve only to demonstrate the lack of potential of Grime to crossover, to any significant degree. The endless references to ‘beef’, ‘blood’, ‘E3’ and ‘Eski Boy’ (his pseudonym) and the like mean this album will probably only end up being broadcast tinnily from an MP3 player on the top deck of a bus near you, and within circles expert in this genre. Which is a shame, because in places - particularly on 'Nothing About Me' - Wiley shows the scope of material and touch with rhymes and phrasing which are reminiscent of someone like Eminem.
Apparently he intends to retire soon after the release of ‘Playtime Is Over’. Maybe he should reconsider, and think of broadening his approach.