You'd be a fool to ignore this record
It takes a pretty special type of artist to release 11 zip files of music for free, follow that up with three albums within a year and still pique your interest when a new release crosses the doorstep. But such is the way of [a]Wiley[/a], a man who somehow seems to combine the roles of godfather and joker in the UK’s urban music scene.
Part of the interest in any new album is guessing which Wiley is going to turn up. Will it be the cold-as-ice bleeding-edge producer of chilling early grime anthems like [b]‘Eskimo’[/b]? The house-y pop star of [b]‘Wearing My Rolex’[/b]? Or the joker who made tracks like [b]‘Pies’[/b] – chorus “[i]Who ate all the pies?[/i]” – and [b]‘Boom Boom Da Na’[/b]? The answer on [b]‘Evolve Or Be Extinct’[/b] – his first album since way back in July – is all of them.
For those who favour the cutting edge there are tracks like [b]‘Scar’[/b], produced by Africa Hitech man Mark Pritchard, in which Wiley rides a scampering electro beat that scuttles over the speakers like a mechanical crab. Pop fans will enjoy [b]‘Boom Blast’[/b], a ‘…Rolex’ in waiting, complete with hairdresser-friendly house beats and an effortless chorus about, well, dancing. And for adherents of Wiley’s less-than-serious moments there is [b]‘Can I Have A Taxi Please?’[/b], a series of imagined phone calls to taxi companies with Wiley putting on silly voices. Typically Wiley, he sets it to one of the best beats on the album.
You do wonder, in the end, if anyone other than Wiley actually likes everything he does on one record. But this is all part of his charm: he is predictably unpredictable, an innovator who doesn’t take himself too seriously. You may never know what you’re going to get, but when his volatile genius periodically throws up songs as brilliant as ‘Scar’ – or ‘Ice Rink’ and ‘Ground Zero’ before it – you’d be a fool to ignore him.