Wiley and Dizzee Rascal’s falling out goes back so far, and is so infamous by this point, that it’s easy to lose track of where it all began. With Skepta recently getting caught up in the entire thing, he’s a handy recap on this three-way beef.
Wiley and Dizzee’s early friendship
The feud has been described as a UK grime version of the classic Jay-Z/Nas beef. But while Nas and Hov started as rivals and later became friends, the reverse is true of Wiley and Dizzee.
Dizzee was originally part of Wiley’s Roll Deep crew, which has over the years featured the likes of Tinchy Stryder, DJ Target, Trim as well as Boy Better Know members like Skepta, JME and Jammer.
Wiley was something of a mentor to Dizzee, with the latter featuring on early Roll Deep tracks like 2002’s ‘Bounce’ and ‘U Were Always’. Wiley, meanwhile, guest-starred on ‘2 Far’ from Dizzee’s 2003 debut album ‘Boy In Da Corner’.
Despite Dizzee’s departure from Roll Deep due to their falling out in the summer of 2003, and their long-lasting beef, there have nonetheless been moments of respite and respect over the years. In 2016, Wiley named Dizzee’s ‘Boy In Da Corner’ as one of grime’s greatest albums.
Meanwhile, in his 2017 memoir Eskiboy, Wiley reflects upon how the pair influenced each other’s early career, before urging a reconciliation.
“We’re the yin and yang of the game. It doesn’t need friendship, it just needs closure,” Wiley writes. “You’ve achieved a lot without me. No one can take that away from you. But the reason you’re Dizzee is because I’m Wiley. We came out of the ashes together and made a future.”
The Ayia Napa incident
Dizzee and Wiley’s beef is said to date back to an incident in Ayia Napa during July 2003, which saw Roll Deep members fighting with their South London counterparts, So Solid Crew.
The Guardian reported at the time that a brawl “erupted after [Dizzee] pinched the bottom of So Solid Crew’s lead female singer, Lisa Maffia.”
According to the report, Dizzee was “dragged from his scooter in broad daylight and subjected to a vicious knife attack before he was due to perform at the resort’s Gas Club. He was treated for wounds to the back, buttocks and chest at the Napa Olympic clinic, where he was kept under police protection until he discharged himself.”
The Guardian report stated how two individuals from a promotion company working in association with So Solid Crew in Ayia Napa pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and possession of knives.
In a 2016 interview with Time Out in 2016, Wiley confirmed the Ayia Napa incident to be the beginning of their friendship’s deterioration.
“The reason we haven’t spoken for so many years?… Basically, me and Dizzee went out one night [in Ayia Napa] and there was some fighting with another crew… Then the next day, I decided to carry it on – I didn’t pull out a knife,” Wiley recalled.
“I was just fighting… Well, after we started it up again, those guys came looking for us. But the person they found was Dizzee. The thing we done the next morning led them to go looking for us, but see him and stab him.”
Wiley continued: “Now I’m older, I can see: Dizzee in his head will always be thinking: ‘I know we got into a beef. I know something started. But you lot carried it on the next day. If you had left it I wouldn’t have got stabbed.’ That is the reason me and Dizzee haven’t spoken all these years.”
In his autobiography, Wiley opens up more about the incident. “Maybe I was naive, but I didn’t think it was going to be anything serious,” he writes. “This is all men, young men, all egos, pride, beefing. Something happened, something else happened and suddenly it spiralled out of control. So we lost Dizzee after this. It turned out that he was on his moped, and ran into another group of boys from one of the crews.”
“I wish he wasn’t on his own when it happened,” Wiley admits. “I wish he’d stayed with me. That’s all I wish, because if he stuck with us, then it might have been a different story.”
Years of diss tracks
Like all good beefs, the falling out between Wiley and Dizzee resulted in a back-and-forth of diss tracks.
In 2004, Dizzee first addressed the Ayia Napa incident in a track called ‘Respect Me’, which would later feature on his 2007 second album ‘Showtime’. Dizzee doesn’t make reference to Wiley on the track but he does cut a lonely figure when sharing his side of the story (“If I don’t speak who’s gonna speak for me?”).
The same year, Wiley released ‘Treddin On Thin Ice’, which, along with ‘Boy In Da Corner’, was seen as a “blueprint” for grime. On the track ‘Reasons’, he directly addressed his conflict with Dizzee, saying in its intro, “You know when something happens, it happens for a reason / You know that, innit Rascal”, before telling his estranged friend: “I know you hate me, cause of what happened, now it’s all changed / And I’m not saying you should like me cause I won’t change”.
Wiley’s ‘Helping People Out’ also fired back at Dizzee’s ‘Respect Me’, including the lines: “I wish that I could say I’m gonna be someone who respects you / But you already know that I don’t care, I’ll definitely forget you / In the belly of the beast that’s where I left you / And you can’t say that I didn’t come back to try and get you”.
Dizzee addressed the fallout from the Ayia Napa incident again on ‘Hype Talk’, which also featured on his second album. “Stabbin’ in Napa / What’s the word on the street / Did he really slap her? / Is true that Wiley skipped the country left him?”
On his 2007 album ‘Playtime Is Over’, released the same day as Dizzee’s ‘Maths + English’, Wiley took aim directly at his foe with the not-so-subtly-titled ‘Letter 2 Dizzee’. “Hey Dyl, what’s going on brother,” Wiley says on the track. “Nothing ain’t changed except I’m the best now / It don’t matter I’m still your big brother.”
On ‘Pussyole (Old Skool)’ from ‘Maths and English’, Dizzee refers to Wiley with the lyrics: “There was this one particular MC man / He was an older in my ends and I thought he was the dan / So I started rolling with him kind of like a little brother / My cousin used to say he was a pussy undercover / I didn’t think that it was nothing more than jealousy / But I wish I woulda listened every time he told me”.
Wiley later dropped ‘Reply To Dizzee’, a spoken-word airing of grievances, as well as ‘2nd Dub 4 Dizzee’ before the diss tracks went quiet for a bit.
Twitter beefing and more diss tracks
Fast-forward to 2017 and the pair reignited their feud after clashing on social media. Following rumours that Dizzee has written a diss track about him, Wiley tweeted in June of that year that he would retaliate with a “10 minute dub”.
“Nobody round here especially me is scared of you,” Wiley tweeted. “Dizzee is sending for me because he wants me to make him relevant again, and I should just let him rot in the corner with his ‘Boy In Da Corner’ LP. But he knows I will say something to him, don’t he? Nice try.”
The diss track in question, ‘The Other Side’, featured on Dizzee’s 2017 album ‘Raskit’, mentioning Wiley with the lyrics: “Tell Willy I don’t need a penpal / Stop writing me these letters because I don’t know what to do with them / It ain’t ever gonna be ’03 or ’02″.
Speaking to NME in July 2017, Dizzee said of the track: “What made me write that song? Being honest with myself. What did I say, anyway? It’s just me saying, ‘What do you want? This is an imaginary feud.’ If I don’t feel like working with someone, it don’t mean there’s no feud. I’ve learnt that putting that stuff out on Twitter don’t help a lot of the time, so sometimes you’ve got to put it in a song.”
Dizzee added: “The reason he kicked off about this track is because he was scared about what I was going to say, because I do actually know some stuff. I’d be glad to expose that guy, but that’s not my job.”
Wiley also fired back with a freestyle about Dizzee on Instagram (see below).
Wiley's quick verse for Dizzee Rascal ?pic.twitter.com/jZ7BbtZTUQ
— Ice Cream LDN (@icecreamparties) October 1, 2017
Allegations and death threats
In October 2017, the pair clashed on social media with a series of barbed tweets back and forth that involved Dizzee making underage sex allegations and death threats towards Wiley.
The dispute began with Dizzee claiming that he “was making Grime when Wiley was on Top of the pops with Pay as you Go and shacking up with school girls”. He also added: “I’m not the Godfather I’m GOD”, a reference to Wiley’s then-new album ‘Godfather’.
Wiley responded by saying: “Dizzee you have 1 classic grime album you are not god and you haven’t helped anyone in grime except yourself”, arguing that Dizzee’s career “wouldn’t have happened” without his help.
Dizzee then went on to make further allegations about Wiley, accusing him of inappropriate behaviour with a 14 year-old. Wiley denied Dizzee’s claims, with Tinchy Stryder entering the argument to dispute Dizzee’s side of the story.
At one point, Dizzee appeared to make a death threat towards Wiley in a since-deleted tweet. It read: “Wiley I know you think all this trolling is funny but one day you’re [going to] push me too far and I’m going to kill you. I hope you keep laughing”.
After initially saying he had “never touched” the girl at the centre of the accusations, speaking in an interview with The Times later that same month, Wiley once again refuted the claims.
“Dizzee’s not as accurate as he wants to be,” he said. “I’ve got nothing to hide. I also know that when brothers argue they will say anything.”
Skepta collaborates with Dizzee – and angers Wiley
Following Skepta (a long-time close friend and collaborator of Wiley’s) working with Dizzee on ‘Money Right’, Wiley went on a lengthy Instagram rant during October 2018.
Wiley said in an Instagram Story: “You know why I’m the king? Because I tell people to work with you, you tell people to ‘fuck Wiley. Fuck grime, I’m a pop star. Fuck all them man.’ You and Skepta, I hope you’re happily ever after bruv.”
He added: “Dizzee and Skepta are on a tune…fucking hell” before calling them both “frauds” and declaring: “You will never be able to beat me at my own game, ever.”
From the mouth of Wiley (Part 2) ?? pic.twitter.com/YnwI7MaRj8
— GRM Daily (@GRMDAILY) October 17, 2018
Watch the video for ‘Money Right’ below:
In November 2018, Wiley released a song called ‘Flip The Table’ that took aim at both Dizzee and Skepta. “You’re not a killer, you’re a table flipper, the boy in the corner, the grime scene quitter,” Wiley rapped, referring to Dizzee.
Immediately after sharing ‘Flip The Table’ on Twitter, Wiley tweeted “The War Has Officially STARTED”.
The latest developments
In February 2019, Skepta fired back at his former friend, releasing a diss track, ‘Wish You Were Here’, in which he fired back at Wiley with the lyrics: “You said you were my brother but you weren’t there/ Came to squash beef but you weren’t there… Old school beef, no I ain’t got time / Old school friends, no I ain’t got time / Life goes on, man I can’t rewind”. Later in the song, he raps: “Hold tight Wiley, where are you?”
On 27 February, Wiley responded to Skepta’s diss track with one of his own, titled ‘Don’t Bread Me’. In it, he replies to Skepta’s song (“I’m not gonna lie / All them “you weren’t there” likkle cheap shots / It’s like, come on man, that’s not no kinda level”) while also accusing Skepta of chasing fame (“Clout-chasing, that’s what we call this / That’s not what we gassed you up for all this / You’re a real snake, that’s what we call it”). He also alleges that Skepta “made JME stop” making music.