The resurrection of Grime over the past few years has been one of the great success stories in British music of recent times. The genre’s influence since its second coming has been so prevalent that it has received recognition across the globe by those who have been touched by its raw and impassioned message.
Leaders of the new school of Grime have emerged in the form of Stormzy and Novelist, which has consequently reinvigorated original icons such as Skepta, Kano and even Dizzee Rascal (who, to the delight of so many, performed his classic album, Boy in da Corner, in its entirety in London last year) to restore the elements that made Grime so special in its formative years.
Yet, among all the renewed interest and excitement, there was someone absent. A key component of the genre’s history who had yet to make a statement on its revival. But, Wiley – the so-called “godfather” of Grime – has begun the New Year with a new album, of which the title is derived from his unofficial position within the genre.
The energy generated throughout Godfather is evocative of the genre’s prime years, as Wiley, with assistance from a multitude of producers (JME, Preditah, Rude Kid & Kid D, to name just a few), astutely bridge the gap between Grime’s generations. The smooth, seamless combination of the conventional Grime sounds (‘Speakerbox’, ‘Bang’ and ‘On This’) with the modern, popular Trap sound (‘Joe Bloggs’), results in tracks like ‘Birds n Bars’ bringing a successful balance between the two. Meanwhile, ‘U Were Always, Pt. 2’ sees Wiley channeling his Hip Hop influences, much like he has done in the past, with the greatest example being ‘Special Girl’ from his debut album, Treddin’ On Thin Ice. But for the abovementioned track that is included on Godfather, the album plays much like the legendary Grime sets that were birthed on pirate radio, which contributes to its infectious atmosphere.
Wiley utilizes his authority within Grime by calling upon many established names from the scene’s past and present, making for a track list that would have looked relevant 10 years prior. Expected guests include members of Boy Better Know & Chip, though he also invites the likes of Devlin, J2K, Flowdan, Jamakabi, Ghetts, Ice Kid, Scratchy, Lethal B, Breeze & Manga, as he aims to fulfill his role as godfather of the genre.
Despite his elevated status within Grime, Wiley could never claim to be the most lyrically sophisticated, but he does perform to the best of his ability throughout this album, intelligently using the liveliness of each track to implement his punch lines effectively.
If Grime’s resurgence was missing anything, Godfather has gone some way to being the final ingredient by evoking the limitless energy that the genre was built on. Wiley has curated a project that binds the generations of Grime and acts as the final confirmation of the genre’s return.