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Album Review

Pre-dating Dizzee Rascal's chart-topping reinvention by a mere couple of weeks, Wiley, the self-proclaimed Godfather of Grime, was the U.K. hip-hop genre's first artist to successfully embrace the commercial dance-pop scene which has since become ubiquitous among his peers' recent material. The number two success of breakthrough single "Wearing My Rolex," a heady mix of dirty house beats and chunky, grinding basslines based on Steve Hurley's remix of DSK's "What Would We Do," appears to have spawned the blueprint for the Roll Deep founder's fifth studio album, See Clear Now. Armed with an array of hotshot collaborators and cleverly chosen samples, its 11 tracks, produced by the likes of Mark Ronson, DaVinche (Tinchy Stryder), and Arthur Baker (New Order) provide a hip-pop alternative to his much more abrasive and urban-edged 2008 counterpart Grime Wave, which he describes as "elements of everything wrapped in something new." It's a statement he more than lives up to on the likes of "I Need to Be," which blends kaleidoscopic synths and urgent breakbeats with the soulful melody from Goldie's jungle classic "Inner City Life"; "Can't Stop Thinking," which borrows the anthemic guitar hook from Republica's "Ready to Go" and adds it to some warped synth-bass and electro-clash-rhythms, and the Kanye West-aping "Summertime," where Wiley showcases his trademark, breakneck-speed MC delivery over a looped sample of Daft Punk's "Aerodynamic." But even away from this cut-and-paste approach, Wiley still serves up an intriguing melting pot of sounds. "Cash in My Pocket" is an ironic take on the banking crisis, featuring the impassioned vocals of Daniel Merriweather, a hint of '60s retro-soul thanks to some doo wop backing vocals, vintage Hammond organs, and a singalong chorus that wouldn't sound out of place in a West End musical. Elsewhere, the hypnotic industrial disco of "Step by Step" is exactly the kind of inspired chaos you'd expect from a collaboration with left-field dance act Hot Chip; the title track is an unashamedly poppy affair featuring U.K. rapper Kano which evokes the '80s soul-funk of the Fatback Band, while the melancholic and fingerclicking, piano-led "5 AM" even sees the former pirate radio stalwart convincingly attempt a chilled-out R&B ballad. Closing track "I Am the Sea," a derivative and doom-laden nu-metal/hip-hop hybrid, proves Wiley isn't infallible, but it's the only notable misstep on an album which backs up its ambition with a stream of hook-laden tunes. Wiley may have since dismissed See Clear Now due to a lack of creative control, but as it's by far his most inventive and consistent album to date, he might be better off relinquishing more input in the future. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi

Customer Reviews

poor - let down

iv been listing to wiley ever scince he relesed his debu album 'treding on thin ice' i have bough ever album scince then including this one. and i have to say this is a huge let down. he seemed to reach his pinical with 'Grime wave' witch was an amazing album the lyrical content was amazing then the basslines fresh and interesting. however scince the relise of 'wereing my rolex' in the summer the Commercial sucsess seems to have gone to his head, and he has turned to producing meing less lyrics and using decade old dance samples. i have to say i am actualy sad to see him fall so far and turn his back on the scene he created, and reveled in so much with the relese of over 7 mixapes to help promote other artists, the only good song was '5AM' that dilivers some of his old talent, but dose not do enough to make up for the rest of the album death of a king ....... eskiboy born 2003 died 10th november 2008 due to neglect of the grime scene he nurtured from its birth now he can join dizzie and all the other swag artist i rilly do hope you start makeing your old music agine, i dont see how you can fall so far in such a short space of time

Big dissapointment, with the collaborations on the album this should have been massive

Have been a big fan of Wiley since the PAUG days & to differing extents have always enjoyed the music he's put out.... but this is a big dissapointment. I'm not one of those heads who disregard immediately anything that starts to lose its underground credentials. If anything it is long overdue that Wiley embrace different styles rather than continue his stubborn pursuit of pushing grime music when you can clearly see its not suited to the mainstream. Dizzees pulled off 3 credible mainstream albums, Kano one, but unfortunately See Clear Now will not join that list. Wiley has spent years being dismissive of all the artists he's seen as dropping off after selling out & leaving the scene behind, unfortunately theres no clearer example of this now than Eski himself.

Dusk to Dawn.

Okay, I’d hoped not to mention Dizzee, but from Wiley's 'WMR' to Diz's 'DWM' you sensed a battle being fought. This time the battle was over securing a name as the king of grime, as opposed to years conquering together and then arguing over the grime underground. Dizzee's albums - (all progressive, creative, daring bits of work.) VS Wiley's (One frustratingly senses creative boredom but nonetheless Wiley’s lyrics smell like genius & genre forging stuff). However, truth be told, Dizzee had the edge. Lyrically, Dizzee is undisputed. Quick, specific and daring lyrics and the guts to tussle with genre. In this album though, its as if Wiley’s made a decision. As opposed to continuing to fight with last generation weaponry for the sake of nostalgia, he's abandoned those relics and embraced something brand new, daring & confident. Although, I must say, some songs were a little contrived in terms of genrebending &…sweetness, in all 'See clear now' is very welcome. I was worried that Wiley's SCN would be another attempt to conquer the streets & the high streets while actually failing at both. But...SCN is smart and sharp. It’s a return. A demonstration of guts & skill. A declaration of intent from one of the UK's strongest. BUY IT. Ps. Watch out Dizzee

Biography

Born: 19 January 1979 in London, England

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Quite possibly the key player in U.K. grime -- though he called his knotty, brittle style "eski" or "eskibeat" -- producer and MC Wiley (born Richard Cowie) came up as a member of Pay as U Go Cartel, and was later a founding member of Roll Deep Crew. Much of his best and most crucial early work as a producer trickled out as white-label vinyl releases and free downloads. After Treddin' on Thin Ice (XL, 2004) and Playtime Is Over (Big Dada, 2007), a pair of strong albums, Wiley made a controversial...
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See Clear Now, Wiley
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