Wiley - Evolve or Be Extinct
One of the endearing things about Wiley is his ability to take the piss out of himself, whilst maintaining his crown as Godfather of Grime. Consider ‘Can I Have A Taxi Please?’. On paper, it should be bloody awful and yet this series of prank phone calls made by Wiley himself to various cab companies - played over one of the catchier beats on the (overlong) album - is one of the most memorable tracks here.
Evolve or Be Extinct is not all blasting drums and beefy bass lines though; it also has its fair share of tracks more suited after a few drinks on a sticky Sambuca-coated dance floor. The retro beat of ‘Scar’ wouldn’t be out of place on a Mario Bros game and Wiley’s unmistakable vocal tone is a little c. 2007 at times. The lyrical subject flits between amusing and aggressive effectively, but be warned, the constant ‘rude boi’ references by a bloke in his 30s does get a little old. ‘Customs (Skit)’ is a conversation between a slightly stoned Wiley and a customs officer, on his way to Barbados to hopefully see Rihanna (don’t ask), a strange introduction to next track ‘Immigration’, full of tight flows atop an escalating electro rhythm.
Wiley spitting ‘I’m a weirdo but I’m not a bipolar’ fails to convince, especially given the eclectic nature of this album in comparison to past material. Nothing here is likely to spawn the same success as 2008 single ‘Wearing My Rolex’, but is worth a listen - if only to give your inner adolescent an outing. Where Wiley goes after this album is impossible to envisage. With the growing amount of fresh blood entering the grime genre (notably Wretch 32 and Skepta), he perhaps needs to think on that album title a little and find something fresh.