WILEY

WILEY

It takes a little insanity and a lot of confidence to spark the greatest breakthroughs in art, and as the “godfather of grime,” Wiley has both. Born Richard Kylea Cowie Jr. in Bow, East London in 1979, Wiley had a nomadic upbringing, moving around the country with his father, a reggae artist, while soaking up early hip-hop. After a stint selling drugs, Wiley turned to music in the late ‘90s and began DJing on pirate radio stations like RinseFM. Inspired by hip-hop and UK garage, he sculpted the cold, brittle synths of the first grime beats in the early 2000s on a cheap PC, and the sound caught on. Ever since, he’s put out seminal grime albums like 2004’s Treddin’ on Thin Ice, as well as those that reimagine what grime can be. He defined the UK underground in the 2000s, and even as grime phased out of the mainstream, he stayed committed. Then, when the genre saw a comeback in the late 2010s, he re-entered the spotlight with records like 2014’s pulsing Snakes & Ladders and 2020’s skeletal The Godfather 3. The scene might flicker on and off in the public eye, but the spirit of grime is eternal inside Wiley.

 

NOMINATED FOR ...

 

GRIME ACT

Wiley