Richard Kylea Cowie is the real name of the rapper Wiley who’s widely acknowledged to have been integral to the inception of grime. Sounds mucky, but as one of the original (and current) members of the Roll Deep Crew he’s seen young sparks like Dizzee Rascal, Tinchy Stryder and Chipmunk sign up and learn a thing or two before heading out into the seductive clutches of chart success. Wiley’s biggest taste of mainstream exposure came with 2008’s Wearing My Rolex which got to Number Two in the UK Charts, and this year Roll Deep have got to Number One with Good Times and Green Light. Bangers, all. Justice, everywhere. Recently, Wiley’s become something of an internet phenomenon after sacking his manager on Twitter (follow him) giving away 200 tracks for free (including an album called The Elusive) (go here, get some) and broadcasting his life live on Ustream (here, currently off air). In light of this and his new album, The Elusive 2, that’s coming out at some point in the near future, we gave him a ring, had some laughs, had some banter, had a chat, got to the bottom of pretty much everything.
Hello Wiley. How are you? We’ve just been watching you on Ustream.
“Yes I’m on Ustream, as you can see. I’m also on my way to clean up the house. I was in London, I was busy, had stuff to do, but I just had a newsflash and I said to myself, “you know what, I left my house in such a state that if I go back to it, its not gonna be the one”. Plus I’ve got the MOBO [awards] party on Wednesday and I’ve got stuff to do in London, so I’m just gonna quickly go back and clean the house like, get some clothes, then I’m gonna return to the house in London.”
Where do you live then?
“I’ve got two houses. One in Liverpool, one in Manchester. Then I’ve got the London base.”
Where do you go when you go to London?
“East London, Mum lives there, Dad lives there, children live there.”
“Yeah yeah, well, there’s about 27 houses I can stay in when I go to east London like. I’ve got clothes there, shoes there, or it’s just like family people, my whole family live there.”
So why don’t you live in London?
“You know why? If I lived in London I probably wouldn’t be still alive today. And that’s not because I’m an idiot or because the people I argue with are idiots, it’s just because I’ve got a short fuse and sometimes London is a bit busy and, as you can see, I’ve been stabbed 21 times and I’ve been through so many things that maybe London ain’t for me every day of the week.”
Do you like Liverpool and Manchester?
“Liverpool’s the best place in the country just because it feels like heaven to me. It definitely is a heaven place itself. Like, I could be on my own in Liverpool and walk around day and night, not that I wanna walk around day and night, but walk around day and night and I can’t feel no fear, there’s just no nothing. Obviously I never grew up there so there’s nothing there to stop me from being my natural self.”
There’s no beef?
“Nah, but there could still be beef wherever you are in the country, it’s just that the people there, it’s like heaven bro. I don’t know why I think that though, but everyone’s got a heaven and a hell on earth and that’s heaven for me.”
What’s your hell?
“Hell is definitely London, but because I’m a weird type of person I actually like hell sometimes, but in the last couple of years, no. No hell.”
Do people know who you are in Liverpool?
“Yeah yeah yeah, but they just crack on and do what they’re doing ‘cause they’ve obviously got Steven Gerrard and Torres and when someone who’s sort of entertainment from TV is walking around you treat them with respect and let them crack on and do their own thing. I’m not just gonna jump in front of everyone that’s famous. That’s what I like about Liverpool, they don’t really care if you’re famous or not bro, they just crack on.”
Do you live in the Liverpool bit or the Everton bit?
“Na na na, the Liverpool bit.”
Is that the nice bit?
“Liverpool is split into two. Obviously some people support Liverpool some people support Everton, there’s obviously the north and the south. And the same shit goes on that goes on in London. But the thing is, yeah, that it’s nothing to do with me and that’s the difference. In London loads of that’s to do with me, in Liverpool nothing is to do with me so if someone is looking for someone or someone wants to shoot or do whatever they’re doing it’s nothing to do with me ‘cause I’m not from Liverpool. See where I’m going? So someone else’s danger zone could be my heaven.”
When you made Wearing My Rolex did anyone say “this is a hit single” to you?
“When I made Rolex, I knew it was maybe a Top 10 or 20, but when it went to Number Two I was happy, and I know that I’m capable of hitting Number One, with my crew, on my own, however.”
When you make Roll Deep tracks, are you confident they’ll go to Number One?
“I know they’re a Number One but it don’t make me over the moon, it just lets me know that this is number one ‘cause certain people in the country are backing it and making it Number One. It’s not Radio 1 ‘cause they don’t give a shit. It’s the people who decide.”
Do you get bored easily?
“Do you know what bro, if I’m not making money then I definitely do get bored easily. If I’m making money, I don’t really get bored, because when you’re making money it lets you know that you can go and do whatever you need to do, within reason. Look at Wayne Rooney, look at what he thinks he can do ‘cause he has money. People with money do think they can do what they want.”
Have you ever spent £12,000 on a prostitute?
“Never ever bro. I don’t actually have to do that. My person will see a girl he likes and have a little talk and maybe a little kiss, a little this and that. My person likes to look at someone and think “oh my god, I like her” and likes to put in work to get the girl, and likes to know that he got the girl. That’s my person. I’m not really a prostitute person. It upsets me that a woman would, ah, you know, it upsets me slightly.”
And Wayne Rooney is a) not handsome, and b) stupid.
“You know what it is, they catch Wayne Rooney, but this is the truth: Wayne Rooney is not the only one. There is millions of others. And bro, he’s only human. Wayne Rooney is a human being bro, with lots and lots of money. What d’you think he’s gonna do? He’s gonna do whatever he wants to do, whenever he wants to do it bro.”
Would you like to be a businessman like Jay-Z?
“Not necessarily, I think Jay-Z is really really, not greedy, I think he’s really self-centred. And I don’t mean just because he goes out with Beyonce, but I mean he is a bit self-centred. I’m not like that, I’m a bit different, I’m a bit more loving. You know what I mean? Like I love it if someone comes through and they’re sick on the mic or they’re a sick producer, and I know he does but he does it to a further extent so like, he’s so high up that he could care for a few more people, you know what I mean? I’m not a big Jay-Z fan when it comes to the way he treats people around him.”
You’re more about having a crew?
“Yeah yeah and even if it ain’t a crew, like, just a bit more care. I mean, I know he cares because he pumps money into people, but I don’t agree with why he doesn’t like Beanie Sigel. I’ve got a problem there because I know that Beanie Sigel would have died for Jay-Z so I will never understand why. But obviously, whatever, it’s their business.”
How do you feel when someone like Jay-Z starts promoting someone a bit rubbish like Mr Hudson?
“Nah, listen, I rate Mr Hudson as well yeah, but what I’m saying is I just don’t respect the way that he don’t reach out. I don’t know what’s wrong. He’s come to England, he’s taken Lady Sovereign, I’m not even dissing Lady Sovereign ‘cause I think she’s cool but, like, you came to England and you went back with the wrong thing. I dunno. Jay-Z, you’re not my hero anymore bro, you was once but you ain’t anymore. There are other people in the world. I don’t even wanna talk about Jay-Z but he don’t care. Lil Wayne, Lil Wayne cares, you hear what I’m saying?”
Do you have heroes now then?
“Not necessarily. I feel like I’ve got people who I look to, who I listen to and who I respect, and I’ll listen to their music.”
What’s your new single called?
“My new single is a double A-side and basically it’s a Steve Angello produced one and the Z Dot, he produced the other one and that’s called Bright Lights and that’s got a J2K verse. And I’ve got MIA. I’ve got a few other people I might get to do it but I might just stick with Wiley and J2K.”
Of all the people making music right now, who’s good?
“In England right now the most positive person I’ve witnessed is Tinie Tempah. I’m thinking about people who come from where I came from. And N-Dubz, they’re basically playing baseball and they’ve hit the ball out the park and that’s what I like. I just need to build up my power so I can hit the ball out the park.”
Cheers Wiley, it’s been a pleasure.
“Thank you and big up to all the FHM readers. Tell ‘em I said “hello” and “keep reading”."
Wiley's touring the UK in October. BUY TICKETS HERE.