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Richard Cowie. Wiley. Eskiboy. The Godfather of Grime. Birth name or moniker, the history runs deep. With over 15 years of groundbreaking production under his Prada belt, snappy lyrics and a flow that happily sits on any beat, his reputation as stalwart of the underground scene is undoubtedly deserved.
While the commercial world has saluted him for tracks like top 10 smash ‘Wearing My Rolex', ‘Cash In My Pocket' and Roll Deep hits ‘Shake A Leg' and ‘The Avenue', to his fiercely loyal fanbase it's just the icing on the cake. The trends that he's spurred are countless and he's one of the most in demand producers and MCs the UK has ever bred.
In 1999, when Wiley (an alias he adopted from Thundercats) saw his first major label release, ‘Nicole's Groove', made under the guise Phaze One, it was as the doors on garage as we knew it were closing. With his crew Pay As U Go, their debut single ‘Champagne Dance' marked a shift towards a new sound. Two years down the line, when Wiley and fellow east Londoner Dizzee Rascal were championing their new crew, Roll Deep, running club stages across the UK, no one realised that this still unnamed sound would go on to shape and define a generation.
With the birth of grime came Wiley's greatest era, that of ice-cold Eski sounds, the trademark frosty snares and glidy basslines, inspired by his penchant for winter and acting as an outlet for the darker periods of his life. Certified classics like ‘Snowman', ‘Eskimo' and ‘Avalanche' inspired and propelled a generation of aspiring producers to keep moving through the hard times. His rave Eskimo Dance and DVD series further cemented his king pin status.
After selling over 100,000 records out of his car boot, in 2004 he signed to XL Recordings, releasing his first solo album, Treddin' On Thin Ice. But it became apparent that Wiley's work on the underground wasn't done. He put out his next album Da 2nd Phaze independently, and keen to continue mentoring the stars of tomorrow, he went on to fund projects for Tinchy Stryder and Ruff Sqwad, and introduced pirate radio, it's listeners and beyond to the likes of Boy Better Know. Way before Simon Cowell was trying to bell Chipmunk, Wiley took the then 16-year-old schoolboy to appear on Tim Westwood's Radio 1 show, and with the video quickly notching up over a million views there was no contesting Wiley once again had had his ear to the ground when it came to MCs with a star-studded future.
Further deals ensued as he joined Roll Deep in the charts with ‘Avenue' and ‘Shake A Leg', taken from the gold-selling album In At The Deep End, and signed another solo deal with Big Dada, releasing Playtime Is Over. Moving in to 2008, Wiley found himself experimenting with a new sound and a new label home at Asylum, with his album See Clear Now. ‘Wearing My Rolex' saw his highest chart position, debuting at number two, while the follow-up single ‘Cash In My Pocket' went on to sell over 250,000 copies. Keen to take a break and go back to his grime roots, he proceeded to put out his next album, Race Against Time, on his own label, Eskibeat Recordings.
Where live performances are concerned, Wiley's gone from headlining his own raves to tearing up the main stage at Glastonbury with Hot Chip, supporting the likes of Jay-Z and 50 Cent in concert and touring Australia, Singapore and beyond.
Renowned for being one of the hardest grafters - whether producing or laying down bars - Wiley has been recording near-on a track a day for the last year, up in his Manchester studio. His verbal dexterity has also seen him called upon to deliver lyrics to tracks for artists including Filthy Dukes, Speech Debelle, N Dubz, Riton & Primary1, Crookers, Jay Sean and Kano.
Wiley went on To Sign to Island Records in 2010 where he had the massive club anthem Take That which spent 5 weeks inside the top 20 .. Straight after Take that came the amazing single Never Be your Woman Signed to Emi the single went straight in the top 10 at number 5 and launched the career of the amazing vocal talents of Emile Sande ..
Keen to get back to his roots at the start of 2011 Wiley resigned to Big Dada and put out the groundbreaking song and video for Numbers in action .. 2010/2011
The Future Looks very bright for the King of Grime.