Richard Cowie – aka Bow legend and King of Grime, Wiley – has had his ups and downs as a musician. Yes, he basically invented a new genre of music which was all London’s own, nurtured the stars within it (Dizzee Rascal included) and has stayed true to it for over a decade. But, on the flip side, he’s also developed a reputation as a musical eccentric, taking part in ‘Truman Show’-esque live-streaming experiments, sacking his manager on Twitter, and regularly badmouthing promoters (‘Fuck them and their farm’ he memorably tweeted about the Eavis family while at Glastonbury this year).
It seems, however, that despite all the bellyaching, fans in Wiley’s east London homestead love him more than ever. So much so, in fact, there’s now a petition on the Change.org site encouraging Tower Hamlets council to build a statue in the ‘Wearing My Rolex’ rapper’s honour. ‘As we journey through our day-to-day lives as commuters, as cyclists, as pedestrians and road users it’s refreshing to be reminded of uplifting and entertaining role models, especially ones who were born and nurtured on the same streets as us,’ the petition proposer, Julie Adenuga, writes. ‘Richard Cowie (aka Wiley) has undoubtedly inspired an entire generation. A man who has put his heart and soul into what he believes in and consistently shows passion and perseverance.’
At the time of writing, the petition had 2,324 supporters, with most leaving their reasons for wanting effigy of the original Eskiboy in E3. They range from the simple: ‘I just think it would be nice.’ To the slightly hyperbolic: ‘Wiley invented music.’
Here are Time Out’s five personal favourites:
“Wiley showed me the light of music at a time when gang violence and drugs threatened to engulf my life. Now I am successfully selling my mixtapes outside Oxford Circus station.” – Joe Staines
“He pioneered the grime scene, which went on to become the single original genre of the UK – a genre which NO country in the world can be better at.” – George Lofthouse
“Wiley deserves a salute from the area he advertised a huge amount of pride for, when nobody could understand why.” – Jerrome Brown
“Wiley is a local legend. If the council don’t give him a statue they should at least dedicate a park bench to him.” – Martin Maguire
“Nice jacket collection.” – James Bunton
Read the full list of 20 reasons why there ought to be a statue of Wiley in Bow.