Quite possibly the key U.K. grime player -- though he called his knotty, brittle style "eski" or "eskibeat" -- producer and MC Wiley (born Richard Cowie) was a member of Pay as U Go Cartel and was later a founding member of Roll Deep Crew. Though he released a pair of strong albums during the 2000s, Treddin' on Thin Ice (XL, 2004) and Playtime Is Over (Big Dada, 2007), much of his best work as a producer trickled out as white-label vinyl releases and free downloads.
He made a controversial crossover move with his fifth album, See Clear Now; released on Asylum in 2008, it featured production input from Mark Ronson and Arthur Baker, among others, and the bouncy single "Wearing My Rolex" reached number two on the U.K. singles chart. In addition to being prolific as a producer and solo artist, Wiley continuously assisted the careers of producers and MCs younger than him, including onetime Roll Deep partner Dizzee Rascal. He set up the A-List label for the development of young talent, as well as Elusive Entertainment, where he issued 2011's Chill Out Zone. He returned to Big Dada for his second 2011 release, 100% Publishing, along with 2012's Evolve or Be Extinct, the album being released on his birthday. His 2013 album, The Ascent, found him on the Warner Music label and collaborating with the Asian-American hip-hop crew Far East Movement. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi