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Wiley in New York City in 2005
Background information
Birth name Richard Kylie Cowie
Born 19 January 1979 (1979-01-19) (age 31)
Origin Bow, London
Genres Grime, eskibeat
Occupations MC / Producer / DJ / Record Label owner
Years active 1994–present
Labels Island, Universal
Associated acts Roll Deep, Pay As U Go, Boy Better Know, Dizzee Rascal, More Fire Crew, N-Dubz

Richard Kylie Cowie (born 19 January 1978, Bow, East London, England), better known by his stage name Wiley [1] is a British music producer and MC who was one of the original founders of the Roll Deep Crew. Wiley has been active in the fields of Jungle, Drum & Bass and UK Garage music, but is best known for being the major mover in the creation of Grime. People call wiley the godfather of grime.



The Grime genre of music is and has been said to be originated from Bow. Wiley has been proclaimed as the "King of Grime" also "Godfather Of Grime". Other Grime artists have cited Wiley as a big influence in their careers. [2][3] He has been a prolific artist producing several albums and mixtapes for a number of labels. His origins have often been a subject of his work (e.g. "Bow E3").


Pay As U Go and Roll Deep

Wiley joined with the "The Ladies Hit Squad" UK Garage crew with school friends DJ Target and MC Maxwell D around 2000. They achived some success on the UKG scene but then decided to combine with rival crew Pay As U Go to become a "super crew" containing the Ladies Hit Squad members plus DJ Slimzee and MC's Major Ace and Plague. God's Gift, Flow Dan and Riko joined soon after.[4] In 2002 the collective achieved a top 40 hit "Champagne Dance"

Soon after the crew disintegrated due to the power of the individual members who had differing ideas of the direction the crew should take. Wiley went on to form the Roll Deep collective. Which included Dizzee Rascal and Tinchy Stryder as MC's. They were making music that was different from UK Garage. For a while there was not even a name for it. The label "grime" was the one that stuck. [5]

From 2001, Wiley produced a slew of instrumental "riddims" singles on his WileyKat Record label. The most famous ones are the "Avalanche", "Blizzard", "Eskimo" and "Ice Rink". This led to his signing a record deal with XL Recordings.

Solo work/Eskiboy (2004–2007)

In 2004, Wiley released an album, Treddin' on Thin Ice on XL Recordings. Singles from the album include, "Wot Do U Call It ?" a record questioning what name should be given to his music and "Pies".

During this period, Wiley occasionally referred to his music as "Eski", short for 'Eskibeat' – the name he initially gave to grime. Also, Wiley released mixtapes under the name "Eskiboy". He explained his choice of name for his music and the continuing theme in his song and album titles such as Treddin' on Thin Ice, partly because he likes the wintertime, but mainly meaning cold in spirit.[6] Wiley was quoted in conjunction with his "cold" theme:

"Sometimes I just feel cold hearted. I felt cold at that time, towards my family, towards everyone. That's why I used those names"[7]

." Many of Wiley's early vinyl releases, such as 'Eskimo', were released under the alias "Wiley Kat", this name was derived from a character in the cartoon Thundercats. However the 'Kat' is never officially used by Wiley anymore, only mentioned loosely in some of his songs.

In 2007, Wiley released Playtime is Over on Big Dada Records, an album which followed his eskibeat roots.

Mainstream success (2008–present)

In 2008, Wiley found chart success with the hit single "Wearing My Rolex". The instrumentation (such as the slower, house style beat and lack of sub bass) [8] caused some unrest within the Grime scene as Wiley had previously vowed that he would never change his origin to break into the mainstream.

Wiley also released an album, See Clear Now, in October 2008 which included hits "Wearing My Rolex", "Cash In My Pocket" and "Summertime". This album took Wiley in a mainstream direction. Despite its success, Wiley has disowned the album as he was "very angry" with the label, Asylum, about the production and also unhappy about his then management. Wiley left the label[9] and has gone on to make another album, Race Against Time. This was released eight months after his previous album in June 2009, on Eskibeat Recordings where he had much more creative control. The album includes the 2009 hit "Too Many Man", featuring Boy Better Know.

It was announced at the end of October 2009 that Wiley had signed a four-album deal with record label Island Records. The first single to be released under his new record label will be " Take That", a collaboration with Brooklyn/New York based producer and remixer Chew Fu. [10] The first of these albums is likely to be entitled The Elusive. [11], but in another more recent interview Wiley brought up the name King Richard, as another possible album title.

March 2010 – Wiley created A-list with a number of other artists, such as J2K, Brazen, Wrigley, JJ, Mz Bratt, Shola Ama & Sadie .etc. Songs are yet to be released.

Other ventures

Wiley also has two clothing ranges in addition to his music.[12] The performer announced his retirement in 2007 as he thought he was "too old" for the game aged 28. He quickly ended it to continue recording the following year when he released the "Wearing My Rolex" single. [13]

Wiley is the CEO and owner of his own record company, EskiBeat Recordings, which he does a lot of production and artist development for artists in and out the Grime scene he also is the creator of a new grime collective call the a-list which has various artists in and is one to look out for in 2010.

It is rumoured that Wiley is also making different genre's of music, funky house for example, under a different stage name.

Wiley death report hoax

In November 2008, a hoax BBC News report appeared stating that Wiley had been stabbed to death in Hackney, East London. Wiley responded to reports of his demise by posting on his MySpace blog "I AM NOT DEAD". On the same day, American rapper, Lil' Wayne also had a fake report of his death posted.[14]


  • Tunnel Vision Vol 1 – 7
  • Umbrella
  • The Eskibeat Instrumentals Vol.1
Street Albums
Studio albums


  1. ^ Kellman, Andy (2008). "Biography". Allmusic. All Media Guide. Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  2. ^ "Music lyrics – Wiley". BBC. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  3. ^ "Sound of 2004: Wiley". BBC News. 2004-01-07. Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  4. ^ "Pay As U Go Cartel website". Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  5. ^ "Wiley Interview 2003". Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  6. ^ McKinnon, Matthew (2005-05-05). "Grime Wave". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2008-02-24. 
  7. ^ Clark, Martin (December/January 2003). "Eski Beat: An Interview with Wiley". Jockey Slut. Retrieved 2008-03-13. 
  8. ^ Frere-Jones, Sasha (2005-03-21). "True Grime". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  9. ^ Mistajam (2008-09-19). "Wiley walks from label – BBC 1Xtra". Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  10. ^ "Take That Songfacts". Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  11. ^ Spotty Wiley Album Details released – Xlr8r
  12. ^ "The Eskimo sound". The Daily Telegraph. 2004-04-22. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  13. ^ Hancox, Dan (2007-05-18). "Grime spree".,,2081598,00.html. Retrieved 2008-02-20. 
  14. ^ Rosie Swash. "Rappers caught in death hoaxes – The Guardian – November 3 2008". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  15. ^ "Chart Log UK – Chart Coverage and Record Sales 2008". Retrieved 2010-03-02. 

External links


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