Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Review: Wiley - Evolve or Be Extinct


Incredibly Evolve or Be Extinct is Wiley's third album in the space of year. Of course there weren't any doubts about Wiley's creativity, especially after the Zip Files! The question is: has he managed to effectively channel his creativity and deliver a quality album?


In the past Wiley has expressed his frustration with record labels that didn't understand him and his music. That has been part of the reason that he has moved between so many labels (4 in all including his own, Eskibeat Recordings). "Where am I gonna go wrong with this type of freedom" Wiley asks on "This Is Just An Album" and one look at the track listing gives the answer. There's a lot of music on this record (22 in total) and at times it feels like a drain. Wiley could have made a more concise and stronger album had songs like "Daiquiris" and "Scar" not been included.

Nevertheless there are some gems on this album and the Manga assisted "Confused" is one of them. It's a song about women troubles and Manga shows why he's one of Grime's best MC's with bars like:

"Love is a game that gets played 
Where we both lose
Cos right now you might think I'm the one
Then you're gonna throw up the deuces"

"Miss You" is another of Evolve or Be Extinct's highlights and the subject matter is self explanatory. Despite the sentiment being expressed "Miss You" doesn't come off as a 'lovey dovey' tune and is instead a song that will sound sick in a club.





Talking of clubs "I'm Skanking" is a song about something some people have forgotten to do when in clubs. Yes I accept that not everybody can dance, but in certain clubs people would rather stand and look pretty than dance to good music-which is strange to me.

"Weirdo" is one of Evolve or Be Extinct's average songs with lines like "dessert and dinner but I had dessert first"-it's a song the album could do without. "Customs" is another song Evolve or Be Extinct could do without, especially since the following song "Immigration" addresses the same topic in a much more entertaining manner. Wiley's unhappiness with immigration officers is clear but calling them "douche bags" and "bumba holes" is probably not the best way to improve his relationship with them.

On "Can I Have A Taxi Please?" Wiley's adoption of different characters is entertaining and reminded me of The Streets' "Don't Mug Yourself". Wiley takes on more characters than Mike Skinner did, but it's a shame the song comes to an anti climax with an argument.


Wiley goes in on the title track "Evolve Or Be Extinct" and addresses his penchant for beefs:

"If a sound boys dead and he calls my name
I roll up and it’s like I revive him
Par. I should have let him fade out lightly
Them ever getting anywhere weren’t likely"

"Cheer Up It's Christmas" came as a pleasant surprise, an unexpected gift from Big Dada when it was released mid December as a free download. Songs like this, "Link Up", "This is Just An Album" and "I'm Skanking" sound like Wiley is having fun and that is when his music is most enjoyable.


Considering that there are 22 songs on Evolve or Be Extinct, it is surprising that only two of the songs have featured guests on them. "Only Human" feels like more of a Cashtasctic song, with Wiley laying one verse compared to Cashtasics 2 verses. Cashtasic puts in a good shift, but Wiley's verse definitely lifts the track.

HIGHS:

LOWS:

Rather than go with the traditional 10 or 5 point rating system, I've opted to go with my own system. It's clear and lets you the reader know instantly how good an album, EP or mixtape is. 

Avoid, is literal and any project with this rating is not worthy of your hard earned money. 

Stream, such a project has some good songs but not enough to warrant buying the whole package. You're better off streaming it and downloading the few songs that you like.

Recommend, projects with this award are good from beginning to end and will become a proud part of your music collection.



In Summary:
Evolve or Be Extinct is too long, had it been shorter it would have undoubtedly been Wiley’s best album. Nevertheless you will be hard pushed to find a better Grime album (as in actual Grime not the Grime Pop Grime that MC’s tend to make when signed) by another Grime artist this year. The good songs show Wiley at his best, from merking a beat to being comical and he even finds time to sling an indirect diss (or two). For those reasons Evolve or Be Extinct is Best In New Music's first recommended album of the year.

Rating:
Avoid | Stream Recommend


Evolve Or Be Extinct is available to buy now on iTunes UK & iTunes US. Evolve Or Be Extinct is also available to stream now on Spotify.