» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Playtime is Over
Big Dada

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

December 6, 2007
One nice thing about grime, the biggest jolt to British rap since Slick Rick, is that I don't have to understand a thing the MC is saying to enjoy the music's nervy brew of clicks and grunts. Most grime MCs cheerfully accept their role as another sound in the scape of lo-rent bangings and clangings that regularly find homes on wax in London. Early originator Wiley is probably the second-most popular grime artist in the world (unless Lady Sovereign counts, but her side ponytail seems to have run its ends split), and all this blog addict still knows about him is that a) he's got a beef queue about 20 deep, and b) the only one anyone cares about is rolling with first-most popular grime artist Dizzee Rascal, who's actually scored airplay and distribution outside of Robbie Williams' realm.

I'm sure Wiley has personality to spare to account for his level of popularity (and notoriety), but I'd be lying if I didn't address my suspicions that his beats have more. It's no insult either; the mischevious jilt beneath "Slippin'" and the cozy psychedelia that floats "Baby Girl?". Those are his own babies. One advantage grime enjoys is that, unlike similarly lo-rent American exports of hyphy and crunk, its jarring clashes sound complex without needing to dress up to appear less cheap than they actually are.

Playtime is Over, Wiley's third album, is full of tunes long on hookcraft considering their thrifty origins. Try "Gangsters," which Wiley ends by duetting with the sample, a simple vamp on an unidentified female cooing the title word paired with a wavy synth riff, or the queasy death-bass and Hitchcock strings of "Bow E3". Only "My Mistakes," featuring Manga and Little D, approaches a satisfaction and feel beyond budget-beat trunk-rattling, with the three MCs weaving around a gorgeous violin like sewing machines. Student of the fuller American beat that I am, "My Mistakes" is my favorite cut. Connoisseurs of the sparer overseas style may prefer others.

As for the Dizzee beef, legend pits Wiley as the Jaz-O to Dizzee's Jigga, all that I-created-you-and-I-can-destroy-you noise that Biggie never lived to squash Puffy on. But the none-too-subtle "Letter to Dizzee" included here is more like the flipside to Kanye West's "Big Brother": "We ain't in beef/ So pick up the phone and ring me," but also "Nothing ain't changed except I'm the best now." It's weird trying to fill in Wiley's personality blanks: if he's mad because Dizzee's famous, why does his only concern seem to involve being the best? Wiley races through these beats from one to the next after two minutes on each. If his ambitions don't actually stop at quality music, he does need to take notes from Dizzee Rascal, whose worldlier album (released on the same day, England's own miniature Kanye/50 feud) ruminates for three to four minutes per track. But you get the genuine feeling Dizzee really is the one that screwed him. Through what else? The forgiving windchimes on the beat.

Reviewed by Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss is the music editor for LAS. Formerly an editorial intern at CMJ and creator of the now defunct What was It Anyway?, his work has appeared in Village Voice, Pitchfork, Philadelphia Inquirer, Stylus and Crawdaddy among others. He resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys questionable lifestyle choices and loud guitars.

See other reviews by Dan Weiss



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