Writers: Rebecca Somer & Mariam Sadoun
While promoting his upcoming album Godfather II, Wiley makes a stop in Edinburgh at the unlikely grime venue, The Liquid Room. While grime has taken Britain and more recently the world by storm, it does not have a heavy presence in Edinburgh. Edinburgh’s lackluster feeling towards grime is reflected in the numbers. The gig is far from packed, and even at times feels somewhat empty with a large amount of free space even close to the stage. This could be because it was rescheduled due to the prior week’s Beast of the East snowstorm, but you would still expect a stronger turn out for the Godfather of Grime.
Despite the numbers, Wiley brings the heat and fittingly opens with ‘Been a While’, a single released less than a month ago from his highly anticipated Godfather II studio album. This solid, icy performance is inline with all that his trademark ‘eskibeat’ flow stands for. It emits the classic pulsating grime sound that Wiley originated. Another strong moment is his sharp execution of another recent tune, ‘I Call the Shots’, which was the first single released from the upcoming album. As the night progresses, Wiley shifts from new to old music, demonstrating his ability to create hits that withstand the test of time. He performs classic throwbacks like ‘Heatwave’, ‘Too Many Man’, and ‘Wearing My Rolex’ that definitely invigorate the crowd and his avid fans. Wiley is also sharp and focused during the delivery of his verse on the Roll Deep collab track ‘I Will Not Lose’. Given Wiley only has a few verses on this shared five minute original track, the DJ takes it from there and mixes it up by dropping some cool samples against the electric skittering bassline. Overall, his older tracks seem to liven and resonate with the audience most, and this is something Wiley is aware of. He has told numerous sources that Godfather II will be his last ever album due to his age and waning support.
Despite the fact that Wiley’s time in the limelight may be up, he still brings his a-game and leaves a memorable mark on the audience. Whilst Wiley joined the music scene likely before much of the audience was born, the generational gap is barely noticeable. The crowd absorbs Wiley’s energy and moshes the night away to his fast-beat, polyrhythmic sounds. This highlights how the relevance of Wiley’s music transcends generations of youth. From his early days creating garage music with college friends to starting grime with his crew Roll Deep up until today where he continues making grime-electro fusion bangers that appeal to the masses, Wiley is clearly a multi-talented, versatile artist, and it is sad to see his career approach its end. No matter what, Wiley has cemented his legendary status in the U.K. music scene, so he can now kick back and watch budding talent continue to take the British sound into unexplored territories just like he did nearly two decades ago.
Wiley is known to be a great supporter of many up-and-coming grime artists. With this inclusive spirit, he brings out two unknown guest artists towards the end of his set. Although the crowd does not receive them with too much enthusiasm, kudos to Wiley for supporting local talent and extending his platform. It is a shame though that the second group he brings out end up closing the show. Though this guest group attempts to sustain the prior energy generated, it does not live up and results in an anticlimactic ending to the show. We would have much preferred one final farewell from the Godfather himself.