Wiley – The Ascent
Another Wiley album, another threat from perhaps the last surviving well-known grime rapper with any credibility left to retire – leaving us to the tender mercies of fashionable sell-outs like Tinie Tempah. Wiley has always had trouble making consistent albums, despite highlights on each release. Unfortunately, The Ascent doesn't address these problems.
It begins well, consistently dark and brutal (the intense, macho-as-fuck First Class and Skillzone). Then, predictably, it all goes wrong – Hands in the Air is a limp crowd-pleaser with an execrable X-Factor chorus; Reload is all hideous, unlistenable trance synths and tired drum & bass rhythms. Heatwave's repellent, Cheeky Girls-aping chorus is nauseating. Album closer Humble Pie offers light relief from the chart-aimed, pandering pop hooks, but it's too little too late. Still a superb producer and rapper, Wiley's instincts are too frequently off base on The Ascent, making for a disappointing, unrewarding slog. [Omar J. Kudos]