Naming your new album Godfather is some statement, but within the context of the grime genre, it’s a title of which Wiley is worthy. He and former friend Dizzee Rascal co-created the genre itself with their debuts, Wiley’s Treddin’ On Thin Ice and Dizzee’s Mercury Prize winner Boy In Da Corner. Since 2004 he’s stuck to the genre he helped birth fairly resolutely, with a few detours into pop territory. Having called out other rappers for going pop in his own music, 2013’s The Ascent was quite clearly a one-off get rich quick album, with its dance-pop songs about going on holiday, clubbing and girlfriends.
And yet he slotted straight back into grime without much being said, with this latest LP being hailed as the return of the Godfather. It says a lot about Wiley himself and his enormous influence within the scene; other British rappers who sought the big popular music bucks such as Tinchy Stryder haven’t been heard from much since. Chip, who features here, is still struggling to shake the ghost of Oopsy Daisy.
Eleven albums and 12 mixtapes deep now, and with newcomers such as Stormzy referring to him as ‘the Godfather’ in their lyrics, it seems Wiley’s self-aggrandising album title is justified even if the record itself wasn’t mob-leader worthy.