Dizzee Rascal associate's musically excellent, lyrically moribund debut

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Wiley – Treddin’ On Thin Ice

It’s reassuring to know that artists as well as journalists get themselves into a semiotic tangle about genres. On “Wot Do U Call It?”, Wiley mocks those who’d call his music garage, urban or 2-step, preferring the latest label, grime, or his own neologism?”eski”. The track’s great: erratic, ballistic rhythms; tiny video-game melodies; darting string samples. But the parochial concerns highlight the weaknesses of Wiley’s debut album. His productions are every bit as fresh and dynamic as those of Dizzee Rascal. “Doorway”, especially, is terrific, updating the zen kinetics of Photek’s mid-’90s drum’n’bass. His raps, though, lack Dizzee’s wit and poignancy, or the indignant originality of his timbre. Perhaps even Wiley knows his talents are best suited to producing: “Do you think I’m a waffler, mate?” he asks anxiously?and necessarily?at the start of “Goin’ Mad”.