Review : Wiley - Evolve or be Extinct
GuardianWiley has a creative energy not entirely common among his peers, not just in urban music, but in any part of the British music scene. In the past 10 months, he has released three albums, an instrumental collection and, just to keep things interesting, an EP, too. That can mean that not everything he puts out is of the highest quality, but that's hardly the case with this collection. Evolve or Be Extinct covers house, hip-hop, electro, bashment, comic skits and, oh yes, a bit of grime. And while Scar (one of two efforts with Mark Pritchard, a dance producer of similarly prodigious output), I'm Skanking and Boom Blast are the tracks whose hooks dig deepest, every song has something to intrigue. "I'm a weirdo, but I'm not a bipolar," is Wiley's take, and it's true that his magpie energy is compelling partly for its wonkiness. But in his impressions of Guardian readers, or lyrical knockings of the younger generation (the title track cuts off an imagined new-school hater in full flow, to segue into a club sex song), there's genuine humour here – another factor that keeps Wiley a class apart....full text
PopmattersFirst name’s Richard and his middle name’s Kylea, but everyone knows him as Wiley, the UK producer and rapper who’s unusually busy, even by hip-hop’s pro-hustling standards. Last year saw multiple mixtapes and two official albums, one of them released on Wiley’s own label. Now he’s back with the double album Evolve or be Extinct, basically a tribute to his workaholism. “This is just an album,” Wiley raps, “that I made / On to the next one, keepin’ the pace / Ain’t nobody gonna do your work for you.” True to his word, Wiley produces 14 of these 22 tracks himself. That’s down from the 100% of tracks he produced for his 2011 album 100% Publishing, but cut the guy some slack—I don’t think he sleeps.
Instead he makes beats—hard beats, disco beats, herky jerky spazzy beats, beats that are spacey and weird—and raps over them in ways that are indelible and musically adventurous. After the so-so introduction “Welcome to Zion”, Evolve slams into your brain with its title song, a boxing match between track and rapper. Wiley’s track mainly consists of a double-time riff repeated over and over, while his flow is a hyperactive syncopated wonder that darts in and out of the spaces in the production, elaborating and playing off its rhythmic possibilities. A hypeman declares, “If you’re not spittin’ this way on the 140 bpm, you are not evolving, rudeboy,” and you don’t doubt him....full text
PitchforkIn the early days of grime, say around 2002 or 2003, it was easy for Americans (many of us still using dial-up to snag single MP3 transmissions from the London underground) to feel like we'd never be able to keep up. Almost a decade later, it still feels impossible, but for entirely different reasons: Whether we're talking about freestyles caught on cell phones in clubs or fully thought-out mixtapes, the brand-newest shit from grime's young turks and old hands is now instantly accessible. Much like the current state of U.S. rap, grime unleashes an avalanche of semi-underground material every month, and you can catch a headache just thinking about trying to process everything.
No one represents the promise and perils of this state of affairs better than Wiley, still one of the genre's most distinct voices and crucial producers. Up until 2006, you could listen to the entire recorded output of this grime godfather, from bedroom beat experiments to charting singles that reshaped UK urban music, in just a couple of hours. Now it's arguable that even Wiley can't remember every track he's released in the past half-decade. In 2007, he put out no less than six "best-of" mixtapes, and he hasn't slowed down since. If anything, since his brief brush with the UK mainstream in 2008 thanks to the pop-dance undeniablility of "Wearing My Rolex", he's sped up, as if his thwarted dalliance with a major label allowed him to see the futility of releasing one "official" album every few years in a cloud-based world. But Evolve, available through the auspices of real-deal label Big Dada, is clearly being marketed as one of the Wiley releases you should pay closer attention to....full text
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