Another year another album for the grandfather of grime, Wiley. Probably the best and most reliable rapper in the grime scene for ten years now, Wiley has produced yet another album of dench tunes that not only every other grime artist strives to match, but also adds some diversity into a scene that is too often one-dimensional, self-important, and dull.
Wiley allegedly scrapped the first tracklist for snakes and ladders, tweeting “needs to be epic or no point”. He was right. Grime is so often not epic enough, not serious enough, not representative enough of what it stands for; youth, excess, anger, rebellion, breaking out of your neighbourhood in any way you know. The likes of Lethal Bizzle & co. have been giving grime a distinctly pop attitude that frankly it doesn’t suit, and with Snakes and Ladders, a direct contradiction to that movement is still holding the old ways.
After the chart-smashing tracks of Wiley’s last album The Ascent, new album Snakes and Ladders is a return to the roots of Wiley and the grime scene as a whole. It is refreshing, traditional, fun to listen to. Unaffected by the Top 40, it is one of those unusual albums that is so of an era that it won’t be understood by your parents or by your little brother. Hopefully it inspires a new generation of budding grime artists free of the commercial shackles.