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Treddin' On Thin Ice

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This is a snapshot of grime's birth: It's right there in "Wot Do U Call It?", which grapples with what to name the then-nascent sound. Over square-wave bass, synthetic strings and video-game bleeps, the London MC careens between positivity ("Pick U R Self Up") and resignation ("I Was Lost"); his nerve-jangling sound makes for an unflinching portrait of tower-block life. But Wiley's not afraid to have fun: He proclaims his ambition on the pastry-thieving "Pies" and runs circles around the beat on the nimble title track.


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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Treddin' On Thin Ice, Wiley
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