Photo by Jamie-James Medina
Before Dizzee Rascal got signed and became the emo-hipster's poster child of the year, he was a struggling East London garage MC and his best buddy was a kid called Wiley who pioneered the "Eskimo Dance" that 90 percent of all Dizzee's beats are based upon (the underground garage of today is often called Eski Beat, based on Wiley's song, but nobody can agree on a single term. In fact, Wiley's most recent single is "What's it Called?").
Before Dizzee's manager split up Dizzee's crew, Roll Deep Entourage, so he could make more money, Dizzee and Wiley and Roll Deep used to play six or seven pirate-radio shows a day and then go and play some huge rave in a bad nightclub out of town, selling something like 40,000 copies of white-label dub plates every six months and never being able to get a girlfriend and never sleeping ever. Those were the days.
VICE: I admire your work ethic.
Wiley: Music never feels like work to me––it's just what I like to do, innit? I do everything. I have raves, I do promotion, I produce, I write, I'm an artist. I've got no limits.
But what are the hours?
I could be working at five in the morning or I could not be. Could be doing photos in the day, going into the studio at night. There is no timeclock. That's why it's awkward for me to have a full-time girlfriend, cuz they want all your time.
There was a rumor that before you were famous you used to sit in your room all day eating cream cakes and playing on your computer.
That's not true. Before music I used to work in my dad's bakery. I also worked in a stationery warehouse called Dudley's, taking parcels off a belt and putting them in a designated area. Everything else was just street. The only reason why I even done jobs was because I was on the street and I'd get a good run, get lots of money, and then it all comes to an end. Then you think, "Maybe I should get a job." So you try to work and you can't work, so it's back to the street. Then music quickly got me and all of a sudden I was selling records. Boy, I was selling thousands of records out of my car. Thousands and thousands. I was also spending money as I was going along on clothes, as many trainers as I wanted, things like that. Now I get clothes for free, so my new focus is property.
What sort of property?
A big house. Something really big with garages.
Wiley's debut album, Ice Is Getting Thin, is out soon on XL.