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'It’s like a Hollywood star' – Wiley tells us about being honoured by a paving stone in Bow

James Manning
Written by
James Manning

We’ve always known that Wiley is so Bow E3, but now the MOBO Awards have gone and proved it by installing a paving stone tribute to the grime innovator in the playground at Bow School in Tower Hamlets. Twenty years ago, Wiley attended Bow Boys (as the school was known back then). At 9am this morning, he came back to the school's new site to unveil the stone, which is part of a special MOBO 'Paving The Way' award.

Given his habit of turning up late for public engagements (eg. his headline slot at Born & Bred festival back in June), we weren’t 100 percent sure that Wiley would actually be there:

In the end he actually beat us by arriving punctually at 9.01am while we were still stumbling around Bow in the fog:

The MC kicked off his day by giving an inspirational speech and Q&A to some Year 9 students, including shout-outs to Dizzee Rascal, his dad, his old headmaster, Skepta and JME and FKA Twigs. Then everyone went outside to see the Wiley Stone, which has been installed two years after a petition to Tower Hamlets council failed to get a statue of the rapper put up in the borough.


© James Manning/Time Out

Wiley is the first recipient of the Paving The Way MOBO award, newly set up ‘to honour trailblazers’ achievements and influence across the creative industries’. We got a chance to speak to him and he told us how chuffed he is about the award:

Is it weird to have this big slab in the ground with your name on it?

‘It’s like a Hollywood star. It’s amazing, bruv. I’m not gonna lie – I feel completed. It’s mad, man: like, fucking hell! I want my dad to see it, because that’s what he always wanted.’

Did you choose the quotation on the stone and the location?

‘No, no, they done it, but I’m very happy about it. Because I’m a a studio rat: I stay in there a lot and I forget about this side. Like, Tinie Tempah and people like that remind me that there’s another side. It’s not just staying in the studio – there’s a side where your personality matters, and that’s this side, which I will embrace more now. Growing up, I was always stuck in the studio with the engineer. But now I understand this side: I understand they go together.’

Is Bow the home of grime?

‘It’s the place where Dizzee and Wiley are from. I don’t think it’s the home, because I think So Solid Crew – Neutrino and Oxide, or whoever made “Oh No (That’s the Word)”… whoever made that, they started grime. 100 percent.’

Who else deserves a Paving The Way stone?

‘Dizzee Rascal deserves one in Langdon Park. Skepta deserves one. Tinie Tempah – he’s probably got one already. Krept & Konan.’

Just loads in London, then.

‘You know what? Bugzy Malone is from Manchester, and he has certified Manchester on the map, so he does deserve a newcomer award: “I’m Helping Manchester”-stylee. Can you imagine the Premiership with no Man United or Man City? Bugzy Malone is like the Man City of grime – the Arabs have bought in, and Bugzy Malone has surfaced, bruv. And Chipmunk… oh, Chipmunk didn’t know this: people can get famous off of you. Yes they can. They can use you and get famous. That can happen. So he didn’t remember that, but now he has, and he’s come back with a load of tunes.’

Who paved the way for you?

‘Glamma Kid. Shola Ama. Lemar. Everybody who took place in the MOBOs from the beginning, before I got there. All of those people. And Kylie Minogue – even though she’s not from the MOBOs. My [middle] name’s Kylea, her name’s Kylie, so when I was a kid everyone used to tease me: “Kylie! You’ve got a girl’s name!” So I was like, “Mum, can you just put Daddy’s name on my head and let me go to school, and get that Kylie stuff off of me?”’

Who was your favourite teacher at school?

‘I had a few. I had a teacher called Mr Nicholson. And Mr Hindel, Mr Stickens… I had a black teacher called Mr Salaam, and I always used to argue with him, but in the end he put me on the right path. In class I was always fooling around, but then when I left he was talking to me and he was laughing, like, “Don’t worry: I know when a kid is fooling around, Richard.” So as I left I realised: Mr Salaam did like me after all.’

Watch the MOBO Awards on ITV2 on Wednesday November 4, 8pm.

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