The features heal old wounds while the album breaks new ground
With Skepta bridging the gap between Grime and American Hip Hop, two things are happening. Grime is hitting a wider audience and its artists are moving with that change. That’s one of the things that makes Godfather such an important album. Wiley is not only the Godfather of Grime, he’s one of its most uncompromising voices. Sure he has taken a few turns into more poppy territory, Snakes and Ladders being the best attempt. Its always been grime with some pop inspiration though, rather than the other way around. While Chip and even Devlin might paid their way into the pop world, Wiley’s remained on the edge of it and at the centre of Grime.
Godfather has been on the cards for a while. A two year gap between albums isn’t big for a lot of artists but Wiley’s made a name off being prolific. Add to that Wiley making vague mentions of retiring in interviews it seemed obvious that something was coming.
There’s probably nobody out there who’s been involved in as many beefs with other grime artists. That is one of the best things about this album. Features from long time sparring partners like Devlin, Ghetts and Lethal B showed that the grime O.Gs had grown up and the genre with them.
Some of the best tracks on Godfather are the features. ‘Bring Them All/Holy Grime‘ with Devlin released as a single and was a perfect marker for what the album would be. ‘Name Brand’ features JME, Frisco and J2K. It’s one of the purest grime tracks with three of the purest grime artists. Where Skepta and Wiley started out in Garage music, JME has been Grime since the beginning.
Wiley doesn’t just use the features to make his album better. It feels like he’s calling on the grime A-team to back him. Even artists like Giggs who didn’t feature on the album are named by Wiley.
Polished production doesn’t lose what Grime is about
More than any other fans around, Grimeheads are willing to look past some rough production for great tracks. If JME could start out producing beats on a Playstation, it’s clear all you need is passion and a good ear.
There’s always going to be a debate about how much of Grime you lose when you move away from the unedited sound of Radio Sets. That’s a debate that should always stay around but Godfather is the latest album to prove you can keep the heart even if you clean it up.
Godfather might be Wiley’s last album but it’s easily one of the best. The album shows exactly why Grime is turning heads across the world. Devilman aside, most of the old beefs are settled. It comes just in time too. Skepta’s Konnichiwa has been an important entry point to grime for an international audience and Godfather is there to greet them as they come through the door.
Check out the album and let us know in the comments what you think.