Last week saw the release of the long-awaited album from Wiley, leading protagonist of east London’s “grime” sound.
Grime is a distinctive genre that fuses together two strains of dance music – hip-hop and hardcore rave.
The sound is tightly bound to the scene that gave birth to it – in particular the underground culture of pirate radio, rivalry, and homemade mixtapes.
While Dizzee Rascal, grime’s biggest star, has distanced himself from the frictions of the scene, Wiley has returned to his roots with a vengeance – an early track on his new album is starkly titled “Bow, E3”.
The production is similarly geared towards underground authenticity rather than mainstream approval.
The beats are sparse and proudly display grime’s trademark lopsided, stuttering and distinctly dancefloor-unfriendly rhythms.
Wiley’s MCing covers a gamut of themes. But the overall tone is brooding and reflective.
In interviews Wiley has said that Playtime Is Over will be his last solo album as an MC – he’s “retiring” to work on other projects.
If so, this is a fitting sign-off. It perfectly captures a unique urban sound that never quite made the big time it deserved.
Playtime Is Over
Wiley (Big Dada Recordings)