No matter how many times people say that grime is dead, it's pretty clear at this point that there's no killing Wiley. The man is a seemingly endless source of conversation-starting antics, whether he's beefing with rivals, dumping huge chunks of unreleased material online, delivering stream-of-consciousness diatribes from Jamaica via UStream, or unveiling incredibly bizarre online advertisements. That said, the amount of water-cooler chatter devoted to his actual music, as opposed to his larger-than-life personality, has undoubtedly declined in recent years. Given Wiley's notoriously unpredictable behavior, it's interesting that Big Dada has elected to release 100% Publishing; it's a safe bet that the imprint isn't especially thrilled that he has elected to surround the release of the album with more free giveaways, including a new mixtape with DJ Whoo Kid and another full-length, Chill Out Zone.
Antics aside, there's no denying that 100% Publishing is on the whole a fairly consistent effort. Although entirely produced by Wiley himself, the record is remarkably focused and free of bloat—its 13 tracks clock in at just over 40 minutes. Sure, there are a few stinkers on board—the circus melody of "Boom Boom Da Na" is particularly abhorrent and "Pink Lady" veers too far into goofball territory—but overall, the album sports a fairly high success rate.
Grime often gets into trouble when its MCs spit over more traditional hip-hop beats, but Wiley does admirably over the Neptunes-esque boom-bap of "Talk About Life" and the clubby claps of "Yonge Street (1,178 Miles Long)." Same goes for stompy album opener "Information Age" and the infectious first single, "Numbers In Action," which oddly recalls the party-rap vibe of songs like Fabolous' "Young'n." "Wise Man and His Words" is another standout, a bass-infused, R&B-flavored song that teeters on the edge of cheese without ever crossing the line. Those seeking some of Wiley's vintage eski stylings can take refuge with "One Hit Wonder" and the album's title track, both of which prove that his classic grime formula still has some legs.
Perhaps the album's only major drawback is its lack of jaw-dropping "wow" moments. It's as though 100% Publishing is almost a little too consistent. Nevertheless, it's hard to make the case that Wiley followers are lacking for excitement. As the grime king eases into his second decade of music making, we can only hope that he finds a way to get a little more of that excitement on his records.