Introducing ‘Rhyme nor Reason’ – a SONGLYRICS’ look at lyricists that make us want to jam a pencil in our brain. Or as a man named Shakespeare once wrote: ‘Was there ever any man thus beaten out of season/When in the why and the wherefore is neither rhyme nor reason?’
There’s no city hotter than Chicago right now – the demand for young talent at a premium. Industry heads are salivating, clamoring for the next big name outside of Chief Keef and Kanye to help save a fledgling industry. It’s a moment of prosperity Chicago hasn’t seen since Common and Lupe Fiasco, and lyricists from all walks of life are reaping the benefits.
Consequently, many of those artists are entering the dog-eat-dog world of rap sooner than expected. Some have thrived, while others are clearly out of their league. The hype machine’s latest victim is 19-year-old, Hyde Park native Alex Wiley.
Wiley, who built a reputation as a freewheeling lyricist rubbing elbows with the likes of Kembe X and Chance the Rapper among others, just released his debut mixtape Club Wiley. Media outlets are eating it up, grooming him as if he were the next messiah – his style being the “greatest” and his skills “amazing.” Hardly. Wiley is as subpar a lyricist as they come, shamelessly churning out one rap cliche after another.
The albums first full song “Own Lane” is meant to embody that go get ‘em attitude, the grind mentality that’s been done to death a thousand times over. But for as much as he talks about charting his own path, he can’t help but fall ass backwards into rap’s most overplayed themes. Even the Anita Baker name drop comes across as contrived and prosaic: [LISTEN]
Wiley’s lyrical content can be broken down into three, groundbreaking major categories: women, weed and money. According to him it is because he’s desperately holding on to those ideas, leaving nothing more than one flavorless song after another to munch on – the audible equivalent to a bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos.
But that’s not to say that he can’t bank off those ideas. He just needs to take a step back lest he not see the forest for the trees. At this rate, and with these limiting factors, he’ll characterize himself before he even drops a proper full-length. And then – like clockwork – you’ll hear the old ‘I don’t want to be boxed in’ routine. But by then it’ll be too late. In lesser words – mix it up a bit, don’t be so one dimensional.
In “Spaceship II“, his ode to Kanye, it’s evident that he’s still very much bound to his influences. So yeah, youth does play a factor. Wiley’s trying to sympathize with ‘Ye, when he’s barely got off the ground himself: [LISTEN]
The most telltale sign of Wiley’s lyrical impotence is when he’s paired up with another MC. Alongside Chance he comes face to face with an artist who does exactly what he does but just a hundred times better, which leaves him confused and searching for words where there are none. Likewise, aside lyrical bull Action Bronson on “Icky Woods,” it becomes clear how pedestrian Wiley really is: [LISTEN]
Alex Wiley has room for improvement, but as of right now the attention is unwarranted. He’s relying on hype alone to help elevate him above the reality of the situation, which is that he doesn’t have what it takes to transcend his block. Not at this point.
As a lyricist he has a long way to go, but his sense of humor and industry connects will keep his name relevant. For now. But sooner or later he’s going to have to face the fact that there’s just no way he can get by with a lyrical foundation that is as low brow as this. He needs a little less “K Swiss” [LISTEN] and little more “Suck it Revolution” to balance out the recklessness that’s going on: [LISTEN]