The philosophers have been asking themselves the wrong question. It isn’t does God play dice? we should be worrying about, but does Wiley play snakes and ladders? The answer is, of course, yes. But like everything Wiley does, he doesn’t just play a bit of snakes and ladders, any more than he just raps a bit, or just has the odd minor disagreement, or posts the occasional amusing Tweet. When Wiley plays snakes and ladders he plays it on the cosmic scale, he plays it with his whole career, his whole life.
And it’s thus entirely apt that Wiley’s latest, greatest album on Big Dada is entitled Snakes & Ladders and anticipated for 2014 release. Skepta provides production for stand-out song and first single from the album, On A Level, a lithe take on classic grime tropes, but it’s Wiley’s lyrical exuberance that would make this a hit if it got the half the radio play of Heatwave.
On A Level reminds us exactly what the Bow-born Godfather of Grime is all about. Innovative, banging beats and fast, scattershot, brilliant rhyming, all held together by a personality that is as compelling, contradictory and charismatic as any in modern music. It’s no exaggeration to say that if Wiley had been born on the other side of the pond, he would be one of the biggest stars in the world, and could achieve it without compromise. Enjoy this most vital of national treasures whilst you can.