The title of the album refers to Wiley’s sweat, blood and tears as he wrote, produced, and recorded it all on his Jack Jones. He may have even designed the album sleeve! A guest vocalist, reminiscent of Talib Kweli, has however snuck onto ‘Talk About Life’. His daughter is on ‘Music Is Not Money’. But aside from those minor exceptions, this is really all his own work; the boy done good.
Since the early days of pirate radio and ‘Hit Squad’, way before ‘Roll Deep’, Wiley has been credited as a pioneer in his field. Some say he’s the “father of Grime.” Others have dubbed him the “Lord Byron of Rap.” Whatever you call him, Wiley’s been undoubtedly noted for his creativity. Who else would have suggested we use a little strategy like Sherlock Holmes or compare your chat to a baby’s excrement? For just over 40 minutes we are treated to similar rhymes about his life: him still being a fan of Michael Jacksonl; him larking in park. Each track title is an accurate reflection of his lyrical prowess.
The album’s lead tracks “I Just Woke Up” and “Numbers in Action” demonstrate his dynamic, confident flow. I don’t imagine they will reach the heights of “Where’s My Rolex?” or “From The Drop” nor do I imagine they were intended to do so. Still, the album marks Wiley’s return to his roots: less flashy pop hooks and more meaningful, yet comical quotes.
The bleeps on tracks such as “100% Publishing” appear to engage with the emergence of bass music debate in contrast to the blunt edginess of “Numbers in Action.” “Boom Boom Da Na” blurs the margins–being part raw, part reactionary.
“Your Institution” is an update of the well-versed eskibeats of “Bow E3,” with chat about how he made it to his 7th album and the artists he has met along the way. Listen and relish the piano loops of “Wise Man…” Watch out for the offshore remix of “Younge Street” but don’t linger beyond the self-indulgence of “Up There.”
Another LP is expected later on this year from Mr YouTube, featuring collaborations with Mad Decent and production from Diplo. The streets is watching.