Release Date: Jan 13, 2017
Record label: Wiley
Genre(s): Electronic, Rap, Garage, Garage Rap/Grime, British Rap
Self-released via his own CTA (Chasing the Art) imprint following deals with numerous major and independent labels, Godfather is the 11th studio album from British MC and producer Wiley. Announced in March of 2016, the album was delayed numerous times, even being scrapped at one point, before finally arriving in January of 2017, at which point Wiley stated that it would be his final album. He'd made this claim before when his previous album, Life Is a Game of Snakes & Ladders, appeared in 2014.
Scheduled to come out last September, Wiley’s 11th album was cancelled shortly before release, the motive still unclear. “Pointless I reckon,” tweeted the man himself – a routinely embattled, Eeyore-ish presence in a genre whose go-to emotion is menace. (“Various reasons,” stated a PR earlier this week.) The triumphant launch gig went ahead, though.
The resurrection of Grime over the past few years has been one of the great success stories in British music of recent times. The genre's influence since its second coming has been so prevalent that it has received recognition across the globe by those who have been touched by its raw and impassioned message. Leaders of the new school of Grime have emerged in the form of Stormzy and Novelist, which has consequently reinvigorated original icons such as Skepta, Kano and even Dizzee Rascal (who, to the delight of so many, performed his classic album, Boy in da Corner, in its entirety in London last year) to restore the elements that made Grime so special in its formative years.
Not only did he help invent grime back in the early noughties with his frostbitten take on garage production, Wiley was one of the few to successfully transition into pop. And with grime now back in the zeitgeist, his demeanour on this blockbuster album is of a foreman nodding with satisfaction as he looks across a building site – if they’re not already guesting on it, Wiley is praising his fellow UK MCs almost every other bar. A streak of high-gauge shellings are a reminder of his own prowess as a club rapper, the peak being Back With a Banger, with precision-tooled syllables over a speed-garage beat from Preditah, flowing into the equally nimble Joe Bloggs.
Finally embracing the nickname he largely disclaimed, Wiley returns with what could be his final studio album. On Godfather, the grime pioneer is lyrically nimble and confident in his delivery, trading sharp rhymes with a slew of guests including JME, Skepta and Devlin. Although he's dabbled in more commercial sounds on past albums, the beats on Godfather are a return to the super regional grime that Wiley helped create.
Wiley’s 2008 pop crossover hit ‘Wearing My Rolex’ recently went Gold. He’s claimed he conceded to the mainstream in bid to provide for his daughter; that in different circumstances he’d have waited for grime’s popularity to come back around and pay off. Well, he’s managed to have his cake and eat it. And that’s why they call him the Godfather.