Dizzee Rascal V Wiley: Why This Beef Was A Long Time Coming

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People of a certain age will likely feel conflicted about this whole Dizzee Rascal v Wiley situation. If the first time you heard Dizzee and Wiley was back to back on a pirate radio station with a signal that intermittently clashed with Classic FM, then you’ll be feeling one of two things:

1. That these two pioneers should bury the hatchet and round up DJ’s Slimzee and Karnage for a reunion set.

Or 2. FIGHT!!!

It would be nice if they made up; but the curiosity of these two going at each other is too much to pass up. They have real issues, so it wouldn’t be one of those petty beefs that fizzle out after a few tweets. But they’re also old enough that it won’t (shouldn’t) turn into anything physical.

The Dizzee and Wiley ‘beef’ goes way back. And to be honest, it’s one of the rare beefs that actually make sense. Their problems go all the way back to a night in Ayia Napa in 2003; where an 18 year old Dizzee, on his way to perform at a club was dragged from his scooter and stabbed. This was in retaliation for an incident where he groped So Solid’s Lisa Maffia. Dizzee states that (then mentor) Wiley abandoned him; Wiley says different. And 14 years later, here we are.

The Napa stabbing isn’t the only reason this beef exists however; the second reason is where Wiley and Dizzee’s careers went.

In a long over due and in depth NFTR interview, among other things Wiley reveals why he wasn’t ever too excited about the ‘Godfather Of Grime‘ title. Essentially feeling that it meant he was respected but no longer relevant. The truth is Wiley is the grime scenes and arguably (UK urban musics) JAY Z. Not lyrically, discography wise or even importance (Wiley’s importance to grime is greater than Jay’s to hip hop) but simply being from a completely different generation than his peers but just as relevant. Also noteworthy is that he factors in social media’s opinion of his career. This can be a good thing. This allows a rapper to connect with fans, stay relevant and know what their audience want. Obviously it can also be bad as…well I don’t need to explain the internet’s opinion and how unfiltered it can be.

It’s easy to forget that Wiley was here years before Stormzy, Skepta, Ghetts and even Dizzee. Wiley came up in Pay As You Go Cartel.

Wiley performed on Popworld. Wiley had a career when VHS’s were the peak home cinema experience. Yet despite his age when he drops a project, people still care. He’s still talked about when it comes to grime and not in a historical sense. But whether he knows that is the issue. Inside the bubble could be different.

Again, for those of a certain age Wiley’s reluctance to turn up to video shoots may be a far off cliche. Genuinely seeing Wiley turn up to his own video shoots is still a little hard to get used to. Many thought this was due to everything from diva behavior to simply wanting to focus on the music. The truth was revealed in a VLAD TV interview; where he mentioned following a stabbing that left him with a scar on his face it affected his confidence and lead to him not wanting to be in public as much. Which is completely understandable. Regardless most just made their own minds up about Wiley. And Wiley for a very long time was the only one who was consistently at the forefront of grime. While other emerging stars were making increasingly commercial music; Wiley was too, but also continuing with his Tunnel Vision mixtape series and never truly leaving grime behind. The willingness to do both and not see grime as a stepping stone meant a lot.

But time moved on and Wiley is no longer the sole voice in grime. Skepta’s been crowned king and Stormzy seems to achieving even bigger things. Maybe (just maybe) the reluctance to accept the Godfather title, becoming 2% less crucial to the scene and the demon of the social media opinion has resulted in some bitterness and Twitter spats with popular artists? Stormzy, Krept & Konan, Chip, Naughtyboy…Rizzle Kicks...and now Dizzee.

And it always comes back to Dizzee. Every now and then Wiley will have something to say about Dizzee. Whether it’s wanting a reunion or deriding him for his career choices. And now, combined with whatever’s annoying Wiley in the last few years this is very likely to boil over into the first serious beef Wiley’s had in years.

And then there’s Dizzee. If you saw Dizzee come up from ‘I Luv U’ to radio to ‘Boy In Da Corner‘; his journey means a lot more than just some rapper. His role in creating grime, just how unique his rap style was and his success. So for a lot of us, when he started with ‘Dance with me’, ‘Bonkers‘ etc while disappointed he wasn’t making grime anymore; we were just happy for his success.

When he came out with ‘The Fifth‘ we thanked him for the good times and happily gave him to pop music; whilst our scene began to flourish. Only ‘The Fifth‘ flopped. And while there’s plenty still interested in Dizzee’s music; the lukewarm reception to his (very good) ‘Pagans EP‘ might have Dizzee wondering where he fits in to the current grime scene. Which I guess is where this diss (if it exists) comes in.

There’s a whole generation of people who know Dizzee for ‘Check 1-2, guns in the air!‘ But a lot of the current generation know Dizzee as ‘that Bonkers guy‘. So sending for Wiley is the perfect way to remind everyone what he means to grime, that he’s more than a pop star and can really rap.

It’s hard to imagine how necessary this is, but it’s certainly welcome. And there’s also the sneaking suspicion that this could lead to an actual reconciliation after 14 years. And then finally: ‘Fitness Instructor 2‘? ‘Fitness Instructor EP‘….. A (FULL) Roll Deep reunion?

But seriously, this:

versus this:

People of a certain age can dream.