He’s kept grime moving forwards with some truly audacious sounds.
Lloyd Bradley 2011-06-15
The best thing about grime is its open-mindedness: there’s nothing it won’t absorb or recycle in order to achieve its ends, and as a result keeps moving on. This is why it’s lasted for as long as it has.
Wiley, one of the originals who evolved the style out of UK garage and jungle, has been around longer than most. Now, some 15 years in to his career, he is grime’s elder statesman – even if his public profile doesn’t reflect such status.
Appropriately, though, 100% Publishing epitomises all of the music’s qualities. Take the fourth track, Boom Boom da Na. It’s constructed on that classic circus refrain – "boom boom da na na na, boom boom" – with Wiley scatting the melody over a computerised calliope; then a lurching, grumbling bassline reminds everyone not to get too chirpy, topped by his seemingly stream-of-consciousness lyrics about, essentially, himself, his craft, his crowd and his career. It’s pure underground grime: unsettling music and Tweet-mentality vocals that perpetually celebrate both the genre and the mundane nature of everyday life.
100% Publishing is a vivid example of the sheer depth and inventiveness that sets Wiley apart, and has kept him in demand as the genre’s most sought-after producer. The album is always grime and, as the above example shows, he’s not afraid of using any sounds available; but he uses them to create tunes rather than just stacking noises on top of each other.
And quite often he manages this with deceptive subtly – Your Intuition has an almost subliminal melody noodling away just under the beat, and Wise Man and His Words has a weirdly disconnected piano riff. Then Talk About Life and Up There are nearly RnB, but RnB with a distinctly jagged edge; while Pink Lady and One Hit Wonder seem to be constructed entirely out of bleeps and squelches, but turned into music instead of video game audio.
Of course, all of this is stitched together with Wiley’s machine gun lyrics. They tackle such introverted subject matter that it appears the grime scene and the life that goes with it is pretty much all there is, which is exactly what the music’s hardcore fanbase wants to hear.
100% Publishing is a clever balancing act that allows the casual listeners in and retains them with riffs and tunes you can’t ignore, but makes sure it’s insubordinate enough to keep the regulars happy. Most importantly, though, once again he’s kept grime moving forwards with some truly audacious sounds.