Wiley, Eskimo Dance, Proud2, London
When informing a friend about my plans for Saturday night, he replied “If I was your father, I’d ban you from going.” Another said "Just you two girls on your own? Are you crazy?"
Grime's reputation has suffered in the past due to the frequent police raids at illegal venues, but thanks to artists of the genre making their way into the charts, it’s seeing a resurgence in popularity - or at least a more widespread appreciation. This has undoubtedly been helped by Brit nominated Ed Sheeran’s rise to mainstream dominance, which saw some slightly forgotten or relatively unknown grime artists brought back into the spotlight on his No.5 Collaborations Project EP.
Wiley’s track 'Eskimo' is often acknowledged as the first ever grime track, and as a result he’s known as the godfather of the genre. Understandably, the MC's decision to bring back his Eskimo Dance night was greeted with much anticipation among fans. A far cry from a deserted warehouse, the event was held at Proud2 where security checks were rife and the huge capacity filled. Despite being rowdy and excitable, all energy from the crowd was thrown into appreciation of the music as opposed to causing any trouble.
Although not one of his own, 'Pow' was the song of the evening, played twice before Wiley performed it to an electric response in the crowd. For most of the evening about 20 MCs and rappers filled the stage and took turns to freestyle.When Wiley took the mic there could be no doubt why he's one of the most admired men on the scene, although more from the main man himself would've been welcomed.
His open reluctance to steer clear of a more mainstream route has kept Wiley out of the charts, but well respected among fans. 'Wearing My Rolex' is perhaps his most famous song, but anything resembling pop was naturally avoided.
Not only were other big names in the field displaying their ability to freestyle - including the incredibly skilled JME and Jammer (who also crowd surfed) - but it also gave many lesser known artists the opportunity to showcase their talent. The greatest audience reaction was when Flowdan MC'd over Ruff Sqwad's 'Pied Piper' .
The rough and ready nature was distinctive of a grime event, but the flow was unbroken ensuring there was never a dull moment. It wouldn't be surprising if the event became a more regular occurrence.
With Wiley's eighth album Evolve or Be Extinct released this week, which has been welcomed with extremely flattering reviews, the MC and producer is doing an impressive job of proving grime still has it's place, and it's here to stay.
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