Wiley, 34, rapper, producer and MC, is a pioneer of the UK’s underground music scene. He is known as the Godfather of Grime and formed the influential grime collective Roll Deep. Wiley’s latest album is The Ascent.

What was your childhood or earliest ambition?

To play football or be in a band as my father played musical instruments. Sport and music were the two driving forces for me growing up.

Public school or state school? University or straight into work?

I went to a state school, Bow boys’ school, and from there straight on to pirate radio stations and DJing and performing and making music.

Who was or still is your mentor?

My mentor, or one of them, has been my father. He encouraged me to get into music and pushed that side of me. There are people I look up to within music and my scene, as it were, such as So Solid Crew and Jazzy B, as they set a blueprint for people like me to exist.

How physically fit are you?

I’m in good shape now. I have to stay fit for festival season; running around on that stage keeps me fit, LOL. Also I try to get to the gym as often as possible.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

Talent shines through but you need both to truly succeed.

So Solid Crew

Have you ever taken an IQ test?

I haven’t. I should do one.

How politically committed are you?

Not very – but I have some views on certain issues.

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

Not massively but I am aware of it.

Do you have more than one home?


What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

A house abroad or my own little Downton Abbey here.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

Cars or chains.

In what place are you happiest?

The recording studio. That’s where I can be me.

What ambitions do you still have?

Sell some more albums and leave behind a great legacy.

What drives you on?

The desire to be the best.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

Having a solo Number 1 with “Heatwave” is up there, I would say, and selling the units we did in a week.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

I would say maybe myself – and not listening enough at times when I should have.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?

He wouldn’t believe that, 14 years later, I would still be here making music and that I’d made a life from it.

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

I would still make music. Music is my passion and lifeblood and, no matter what my situation, it’s something I will always do in one way or another.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?

Only if the person’s quality of life is so bad that it is cruel to watch them suffer, and they have lived a long and full life and it is the humane thing to do.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

Not really.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?


Wiley performs at Global Gathering, July 26-27, Long Marston Airfield, Stratford-upon-Avon

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