Wiley: Evolve Or Be Extinct

Wiley, Evolve Or Be ExtinctWiley: Evolve Or Be Extinct
When grime began to take shape in the early 2000s, it was a fiercely aggressive genre. It sounded like the bastard child of hip hop and 2-step, creating a off-center rhythm that was both exhilarating and disorientating. The genre’s raw sound mimicked the raw streets of London from where it came. Although Dizzee Rascal is largely considered to have released the first proper grime album with 2003’s Boy in da Corner, most grime heads agree that Wiley‘s 2004 album, Treddin’ on Thin Ice was the pinnacle of the genre.
I know what you are thinking “how could a genre peak only a year after formally being introduced?” and “if it peaked in 2004, why are we still talking about it seven years later?” Both are excellent questions and the main reason is that the founders of grime are still making music but the music bears little resemblance to the grime of the mid-2000s. Because the leaders of the grime world are making music that does not sound quite like their origins, plenty of grime heads have taken to the internet to call people like Wiley and Dizzee Rascal sellouts. That is where Wiley’s Evolve Or Be Extinct comes into play. The entire summation of Wiley’s ninth studio album is that he has not abandoned the grime genre rather he has evolved with it.
As someone who has watched the grime genre closely since its inception (as closely as a North American can), I understand where grime heads are coming from. One listen to Wiley’s Evolve or Be Extinct and its obvious that this is not raw music made for those on the streets of London. Tracks like “Boom Blast” feature a basic four-on-the-floor dance beat complete with poppy synth bass lines and a chorus of “if we give you the feeling/that make you wanna go and touch the ceiling/then lets get down.” That does not exactly scream “raw.” What it does scream is “dance music made for the mainstream.”
This shift from raw street grime to more dance-oriented club-friendly music is that major debate in the grime world similar to when every new track from the Dirty South features a new dance (“2-Step,” “Laffy Taffy,” “Chicken Noodle Soup”) in hip hop. Usually new artists driving the music more towards the mainstream, but in grime’s case it is the genre’s forefather. The real question is: is whatever music Wiley makes going to be labelled grime or has he officially left the genre? Because from what I hear on Evolve Or Be Extinct, there is little of what I consider “grime” left in Wiley’s music.
Rating: 4.5/10
MP3: Wiley “Boom Blast”
Buy: iTunes

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