Systemic oppression and Wiley – Voice Online

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HE KNOWS he articulated himself poorly, he also knows that is no excuse for what he describes as mixing “ignorance with truth and fact”, but Wiley is adamant, and he’s not alone in his thinking, that there is an unspoken systemic oppression that blights the lives of young black creatives in the entertainment space.

They get us young, we get bumped and then we learn the business and it’s deep man

Wiley

So, who is doing the oppressing?

You would have had to have been under a rock somewhere or on a different planet to not know by now that in his recent Twitter and Instagram posts, Grime music’s God Father lambasted the Jewish community for their role in his business dealings over the years.

The Voice understands that some of those tweets are being scrutinised by the police for being tantamount to Anti-Semitism.

While the outcome of that investigation is pending and the calls for Wiley to be stripped of his MBE and cancelled by ‘the culture’ grow, I finally managed to get hold of the entrepreneur to find out what had triggered his outburst and why he would make such sweeping generalisations against a community of people in such a scathing manner.

These questions were not being posed from an ignorant perspective, some of the views espoused by Wiley are the great unsaid outside of the black community.

Putting anything remotely near considered Anti-Semitic to one side of course, in fact out the window in the bin, not too many seem prepared to vocalise their consternation for some of the recurring themes Wiley believes is the stranglehold one community seems to have over another in particular relation but not confined to, the music business.

Prior to our conversation I was told by a member of Wiley’s team that an ongoing legal case prevented Wiley from divulging too much specific information about everything he was spewing throughout last weekend before he was locked off of social networks for a week.

But I wanted him to explain what his beef was. What can he say?

Just as I caught up with him on the phone the Eskimo Dance artist had just finished speaking to a member of the Jewish community who wished to have a sit down with him.

So, is that going to happen?

“We’re going to sit down,” he explained sounding in good spirits despite the background noise that has become an omnipresent part of his life.

He added: “Because the truth is, what I am saying is systemic and when I say it, they pretend they don’t know what I am saying but they are the ones who implement it anyway.”

So who is they? So far as I can see part of Wiley’s issues pertain to the manner in which he expresses his inner most feelings. It can come out sporadic and scattergun. Enveloping all an sundry and without clarity.

So who, Wiley, who are you talking about specifically?

“So, without generalising, like, there is no point saying all, it’s the people I work with in the entertainment and music industry, the Jewish community that I have experienced,” he clarifies.

“I haven’t experienced a Jewish community that I haven’t worked with.”

While those last sentiments may not be as crystal clear to everyone else as they are to himself, at least we know now who the artists means when he says ‘they’.

So, what, specifically, is the issue with the Jewish people he has worked with, one that he can talk about?

“The things that need to change is the way that the system was set up, why all of these families are rich, or all of these people have heritage, not just England, like, worldwide.”

He added: “They still see us as slaves. Slavery hasn’t stopped it’s just dressed up in a million pound record deal and it’s dressed up in trainer deals, nice shoes and it’s dressed up as come over here ….

“But all it is, is a bunch of black kids making these people millions and trillions, and then at the end of the black kids career he hasn’t even got a property and they have got ten properties and this and that and their kids have got wages to go to school forever. It’s set up so that they win and we lose.”

The sentiments are strong, some might say skewed, wayward, devoid of context in relation to the comparison between ‘them’ acquiring the type of power the yield and the portrayal as slave masters.

As a community, black people have always been made fully aware of our place in this society, how we are viewed and looked upon.

A picture of black people has been sold and fostered through the lens of negativity, misconstrued narrative and misconceptions about who we are, how we do what we do, how we live, work, walk, talk, sing, pray and so and so on.

Jewish communities lay claim to the same disconcerting and often demeaning rhetoric plaguing their existence, so how did Wiley get here?

Unless there’s some or indeed a whole heap of truth in what he is saying, what’s stopping this discussion from being had between ‘them’ and the artists?

Why has this feeling, if it is demonstrated that the stats and facts don’t back it up, not been dispelled?    

Is that an issue in itself?

Does the lack of discourse surrounding these issues, real, perceived or otherwise, add to the problem as believed by Wiley et al?

“As someone I was talking to about this the other day said, they have already got us divided conquered and segregated, they already know that. So if we’re not together they know that they have got us. They will make us look mad or they will make us look crazy on social media.

“I made one mistake, I tried to mix ignorance with truth and fact and I should of known better because I’m a man, I’m not a young boy who has just started speaking, so for my dad’s sake, so I could appear intelligent for him, so his friends don’t ring him who are Jewish.”

He continued: “But you know what dad, change is not comfortable, it’s not.

“When we need change, when we need systemic things that are in place to change and everyone is scared to speak, change has to happen dad …

“It’s not going to happen by shutting up because that’s the geezer who pays you and that is the problem, they are not the people who pay me, they work for me.

“They make it out like I’m working for them, I don’t work for them, they work for me and because of me, they’ve made money from Dizzee and everyone else in the middle to Stormzy.

“From Dizzee to Stormzy, this system in England has been making, money, money, money, money.

“Every time a black boy comes along, do you know that that black boy looks like, gold, diamonds, f****** oil, gas … it does, because what he can do for that man is exactly that.

“They get us young, we get bumped and then we learn the business and it’s deep man.”

There is no way to put this all in one nutshell but the hypothesis that you need to get a Jewish lawyer in order to progress in the music business may be a complete fallacy (I haven’t done the numbers, looking into the correlation in respect of who is and isn’t successful with or without one), but yet it remains.

I’ve never seen anyone Jewish refute or confirm this (maybe there was never a need felt to do so), but maybe, it’s a discussion that needs to be had?

For as long as I have been interested in the progression of black musicians of a certain ilk, emanating from a certain socio-economic strata, namely the same place as me, I’ve always found it interesting to see who buss and who didn’t.

Being of the inquisitive mind that I am, I always pay attention to who the management teams are, who is pushing the buttons and invariably, the standout artists roam in small and distinctly similar circles. No foul play there, maybe that’s just how it goes?

Coincidence? Not if you listen to Wiley’s two-decade experience.

“I don’t just want to blame them, like ‘oh, you do this and we’re going to stay stupid and we’re not going to learn and educate ourselves’.

“That’s why I want to sit down with anyone that has a problem because I believe there is a problem.

“Both ways, if they feel like there is a problem then, there is definitely a problem this side and to get their attention, I had to do that (call them out online) because you know what happens if you don’t do that? Do you know what they do?

“They build you up and then they expect you to be done. Every three years there is a change over so if you survive three years, four and you get to the next one then they will rock it with you but really they expect you to be done.”

He adds: “So, they will pump you up and once they juice you up they get ready to sell you, because now you might be worth money publishing wise or you might be worth money royalties wise.

“So they come to you and it’s all about offering you figures and sums of money that you haven’t got now but they’re going to blow your mind and then you’re going to blow that money and then you’re going to go back to …. It’s those types of figures.”

It’s easy to see why Wiley riled the Jewish community with his incessant use of the type of terminology that makes it so easy to be targeted for aspects of what he is saying as opposed to the actual substance (and believe me I get how that can happen) but while its clear to me that he is having an internal battle with the team, who have benefitted from his genius and in collaboration as a team elevated to dizzy heights, it’s also clear that he feels stuck in the same circumstances he is pouring scorn upon.

But why is Wiley, the Godfather of Grime stuck anywhere? Why can’t he do what he wants?

“When it comes to Ed Sheeran and Adele it’s different, not in a bad way, it’s just different.

“Maybe they sell more, I get that, I get it. But I am just saying they build you up to break you down and spit you out and because I have been here for 20 years they look at me like oh my god, why the **** is he still here.

“He should be gone.

“When ‘Boasty’ come, they was over the moon and not over the moon. Because it kept me here a for a minute or longer, who knows.

“Things need to change man because our kids are going to get older and I don’t want this for them so it needs to change.”

At least we have some idea who ‘they’ are now.


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