Wiley on his final album: ‘I need to not let grime die on the way out’

After a tumultuous year, the godfather of grime explains his b beef with Drake, Stormzy and ‘England’s golden boy’ Ed Sheeran – then announces his retirement

While I was waiting for Wiley to answer the phone for our interview, he was busily tweeting about the greatness of The Wire (“people will be tryna copy it for ever”), the killing of George Floyd (“there has to be consequences”), and his spice-free passionfruit and mango flavour order at Nando’s (“no shame at all”). It is hard to imagine someone more committed to sharing their every waking thought with the world. So it came as a surprise to discover that his new album would be his last. “I’m 41,” he tells me. “I don’t want to try and fit in with kids. I just need to not let my genre die on the way out.”

This is not the godfather of grime’s first supposed exit. The first time I interviewed Wiley for the Guardian, in a council flat on the Isle of Dogs in east London in 2007, he was talking about retiring then, too. He seemed weary, burned out by the tensions and beefs of a fractious London pirate radio scene. It was a different universe from the internationally popular, festival-headlining colossus that is black British music in 2020.

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After a tumultuous year, the godfather of grime explains his b beef with Drake, Stormzy and ‘England’s golden boy’ Ed Sheeran – then announces his retirementWhile I was waiting for Wiley to answer the phone for our interview, he was busily tweeting about the greatness of The Wire (“people will be tryna copy it for ever”), the killing of George Floyd (“there has to be consequences”), and his spice-free passionfruit and mango flavour order at Nando’s (“no shame at all”). It is hard to imagine someone more committed to sharing their every waking thought with the world. So it came as a surprise to discover that his new album would be his last. “I’m 41,” he tells me. “I don’t want to try and fit in with kids. I just need to not let my genre die on the way out.”This is not the godfather of grime’s first supposed exit. The first time I interviewed Wiley for the Guardian, in a council flat on the Isle of Dogs in east London in 2007, he was talking about retiring then, too. He seemed weary, burned out by the tensions and beefs of a fractious London pirate radio scene. It was a different universe from the internationally popular, festival-headlining colossus that is black British music in 2020. Continue reading…

Wiley, Grime, Hip-hop, Music, Culture

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