16 Jan WILEY-MBE
What Wiley’s MBE SHOULD mean?
The GodFather of Grime is now a MBE : Abbreviation for Member of the Order of the British Empire: a British honour given to a person by the Queen for a special achievement
When I first heard that Wiley would be receiving an MBE for his contribution to UK music; I had to take a minute to step back and reflect. Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to observe Wiley’s career from the beginning; and although admittedly I am not an aficionado of all things Wiley, or UK Grime music even – I am old enough to remember what I perceive as the early inception of the current UK rap/grime scene.
Garage dominated the urban scene at the beginning of the new millennium. So Solid Crew, Oxide and Neutrino and Ms Dynamite were on top. The first time I heard of Wiley was around 2002; he was spitting with the ‘Pay as you go Cartel’ on their UK single ‘Champagne Dance’ –
Champagne Dance, a novelty classic growing up achieved top 20 status in the UK; and that’s what really stood out to me about Wiley’s achievement. He’s always made hits. His debut album ‘Treddin on thin Ice” stands the test of time. Wiley had a hand in helping jump-start a number of young careers like; Dizzie Rascal, Tinchy Stryder, Scratchy, even remember him freestyling with ice kid and Chipmunk bring them through and a whole host of other UK legends who were a part of Roll deep at one point or another.
The level of success and consistency he has been able to achieve for nearly two decades is remarkable. Especially when you consider it has all mostly been tied to an unknown genre. Yes you will have your section of Wiley fanboys who cry about some of his more commercial songs like ‘Heatwave’ and ‘Goodtimes’
which are a bit left from his original sound. This line of thought is quite baffling; because a song has breached pop culture you cannot like it anymore? Should a musician only cater to their core fan base; you know the hardcore fans who know their middle name, have every EP and know what church the artist was christened at? Exactly.
Wiley’s personal achievement shows some progress from the days only Rock and Pop artist were taken seriously in the UK. No, this MBE is not the launch pad for a monumental shift genre popularity in the UK. But the recognition alone shows that Wiley’s career has not gone unnoticed and that is something to hold on to.
Recognised by his peers as a pioneer, innovator and key figure contributing to the genesis of UK rap/grime; it is quite appropriate that now the queen has tipped her hat off to the East London native. Wiley’s story is one of triumph. A former drug dealer, who used his musical talents to usher in a new UK sound, distance himself away from a life of crime, and have a successful 16-year career.
I can only imagine the pride he felt receiving the ultimate pat on the back from your Majesty the Queen.