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Richard Cowie Jnr (born 19 January 1979), better known by his stage name Wiley and in his early career Wiley Kat, is an English hip hop recording artist, record producer and DJ from Bow, East London. He first tasted success as a member of UK garage crew Pay As U Go, with whom he had a top 40 hit, 'Champagne Dance' in 2001. In the early 2000s, he independently released a series of highly influential eskibeat instrumentals on white label vinyl, most notably the first in the series 'Eskimo' and rose to fame as a grime MC both for his solo work and for material released with his crew Roll Deep.
Wiley has continued to make grime music while also releasing mainstream singles, such as the UK Singles Chart top 10 hits 'Wearing My Rolex', 'Never Be Your Woman' and his UK number-one 'Heatwave'. A key player in the creation of grime music and often called the Godfather of Grime, he is considered a pioneer in the British underground music scene with a prolific work rate and a versatile music artist with many crossover hits.
Richard Cowie Jnr was born 19 January 1979 in Bow, East London to two Jamaican immigrants. Cowie's father, Richard Cowie Senior was a reggage artist during Cowie's youth in the 1980s and introduced Cowie to early hip-hop such as The Sugarhill Gang. Cowie moved around London a lot as a child with his father before moving to Chatham, Kent to live with his grandmother when he was ten. Cowie spent a year in Chatham and described it as a bad time, saying 'I just wanted to go and live with my dad. I felt abandoned.' Cowie eventually moved back to Bow to live with his father when he was eleven years old.
When Cowie was a teenager in the late 1980s-1990s, he began to sell crack cocaine and heroin. Cowie was introduced to drug dealing from a DJ friend who was making a lot of money at the time. Cowie stopped dealing drugs when a local drug dealer who was much older than him began to threaten him and his friend. Cowie began producing music after he stopped dealing drugs as an alternative to making money. Cowie started as a DJ and eventually began rapping, incorporating garage music and drum and bass into his produced instrumentals which led to the creation of the first ever Grime beats such as 'Eskimo.'
Though Cowie stopped selling drugs, he still associated with criminal gangs and associated with people that took part in criminal activities. This led to Wiley being involved in many situations that were life threatening. One of these situations were when Cowie's friend had solicited money from someone following a drug deal though the money never was paid, Cowie argued with the person who owed his friend money and eventually Cowie was ambushed when attending a show. The confrontation led to Cowie being stabbed seven times. Several weeks later, the same people attacked Cowie outside of a sports retail store, which led to Cowie almost dying in a hospital in Hammersmith. Cowie has been stabbed twenty times in his lifetime and has been in numerous other life threatening situations including being chased by a man with a samurai sword and being shot at with shotguns.
Cowie's interest in music began when his father, who played in a reggage band, introduced Cowie to the drums. Cowie later became a DJ and began producing his music and putting them on pirate radios such as Rinse FM.
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