Album Review: Wiley
Wiley first caught Australian attention as a grime pioneer, with fast-paced winner ‘Wot Do U Call It’ . Now, he’s jumped from underground to mainstream, with a straighter hip-hop style and commercial beats, with ‘See Clear Now’ . There’s something about his voice that’s hard to resist – a winning combination of tone, accent and delivery. He could make a VCR instruction manual sound cool, and at points his lyrical dexterity is impressive. But even his sleight-of-voice can’t make up for his lamest raps. “I ain’t gonna flop, cos I’m going to the top,” he brays, while references to “the hood” were tired even before he decided to use 400 of them.
The opening trio of tracks is strong, followed by an obligatory summer song, imaginatively titled ‘Summertime’ . Wiley’s people must be banking on it being a hit, coughing up the cash for a Daft Punk backing track. But this is where either money or good taste ran out. ‘See Clear Now’ is musically limp-wristed, while ‘Cash in My Pocket’ is the single most irritating piece of alleged music since Soulja Boy last vomited on a laptop. ‘Can’t Stop Thinking’ sounds like the theme from ‘Round the Twist.’
‘Turn it Up’ squanders a swinging soul track by plastering it with the most formulaic of raps. Y’know: Wiley grew up poor. Now he’s rich and has a lot of stuff. And he’d like to list a bunch of that stuff. Bentley, Rolex, blah blah blah. When music turns into a catalogue, it loses any point whatsoever.
Indeed, in terms of content, Wiley is shown up by his guest rappers, both times they appear. But somehow, apart from a couple of tracks, the album still works. Wiley’s voice just sounds so good, and he has a knack for stealing great tunes. You’re left with an artist who has nothing much to say, but says it so well that you can’t dislike it.
Wiley’s See Clear Now is available now on Atlantic