So, as some of you will know, I interviewed grime godfather back in February this year from American website LargeUp.com (child of Questlove's OkayPlayer) about his reggae and dancehall foundations. You can read that here. Today, as Wiley will be announced as UK's #1 single this week, I thought "Let me release a little bit more from that interview".
I like this because he recalls classic songs that stood out when attending family parties as a youngster prior to the soca-fused chart-topping single "Heatwave". It also leads neatly into next bashment-fused single "Ninja" which will feature Sneakbo, whom he speaks of highly in this interview. Please note, this is before Drake mentioned liking Sneakbo's dancehall vibe.
Marvin Sparks: Do you remember your first time on the mic?
Wiley: "Yeah! I can remember just being at home with my dad and he’s got that riddim [beatboxes Sleng Teng riddim then imitates a typical ‘80s dancehall toasting style]. I had that in me. I wouldn’t have done it in front of anyone apart from my uncles, if we were in a park I would have done it there, but then I might not have done it in front of my mum. I was called Ketchie Poo [laughs]."
Marvin Sparks: So when did you start going to raves?
Wiley: "I remember they used play dancehall at every christening and they were like raves to me anyway. When I got older, I used to go to a rave called “Jungle vs. Ragga” which was at Belair - it’s called Club Space, but it used to be called Belair on Waterden Road [east London]. I was only really young, I went to Waltham Forest College, so I remember [MC] Maxwell D, whoever I used to go with, we used to meet there and rave it out.
That is the first time I raved without my parents, without my dad, on my own. I went out on Old Kent Road, I’m mad, I used to go to them Yardie raves where you could smoke weed in the club - you can never do that in a club now."
Marvin Sparks: What did you like about those events?
Wiley: "I’ll tell you the truth, that gave me the energy to be who I am today. [Popular Jungle entertaners] DJ Bruckie and MC Det, that whole thing instilled a package in my brain that I still use today. If you hear me doing a dancehall tune, I could have [rapped] dancehall as a child, I remember spitting a long to all the dancehall tunes, but as you get older, I realise I’ve got to rap how I speak. But sometimes I go back to the dancehall thing, because that’s what’s in me. It’s what’s in me."
Marvin Sparks: Would you say dancehall and grime share many things?
Wiley: "Dancehall and grime are very similar. People battle, people say whatever to each other - false or true - it’s very much like it. The only difference is that we are in England so people can’t be as reckless."
Marvin Sparks: You have a song on latest album Evolve or be Extinct called “Cheer Up, It’s Christmas”. Tell us about the family parties you had as a youngster. What were your standout memories and which songs stand out?
Wiley: "Yeah, fam! I come from a Trinidad & Tobago background on one-side of my family, so obviously I remember every soca and calypso song played from “Dollar Wine” [originally by Crazy, popularised by Byron Lee & The Dragonaires] to [Arrow] “Hot, Hot, Hot”, [Crazy] “Nanny Wine” and all that. They stay in my brain.
"Do you know what I do remember? When aunties used to whine up with the uncles [LAUGHS]. I used to see my uncles giving my aunties some whine! That made me laugh a lot. I used to say “Look at them crubbin’.”
Marvin Sparks: What do you make of the current resgurgence of UK bashment not only the likes of Gappy Ranks, Stylo G etc., but also artists like Sneakbo and Ratlin rapping over dancehall beats?
Wiley: "I like Sneakbo, you know why? He is a spearhead. He is a figure who stands for something. On the streets of south London, for whatever reason he stands for something. Fear him or love him, whatever you wanna say. Sneakbo has become someone naturally. He gets high views, he doesn’t need labels or anything to get his views, he’s getting natural views. He’s special. That isn’t because of his ability, his name, what it stands for, has brought them fans to him and he works hard.
If Sneakbo didn’t work hard, he wouldn’t be there. He’s like me, he will vocal, and vocal and vocal until he’s blue in the face because he knows “I’m bussing mic”. He’s coming from the Nigerian side where he could have been a rapper or the dancehall angle, but he loves dancehall! And that is a south London thing. He was never gonna get away from that. Dancehall had to be in his skin."
Wiley - big up yourself my g. They counted you out many times, but your persevered with the music thing and got your first solo number 1 (third including the two with Roll Deep). Still got another piece of this to drop which may prove a tad controversial.