Alex Wiley is an emerging diamond in the Chicago rough. The rising lyricist releases his highly anticipated second project, Village Party, which followed his previous debut Club Wiley. Village Party has beautiful rambunctious production from some of Wiley’s usual suspects: The Innovatorz, Stefan Ponce, Hippie Sabotage, Odd Couple, and THEMPeople. His Chicago swag, slang, unpredictable flow and a Kanye-influenced ear for daringly progressive production gives Wiley the keys to his own lane.
Village Party at times reflect many of the Chicago rooted sound both past and present. Wiley has heavily jazz and blues-inspired production pounding within the souls of his tracks. You can also hear the legendary Chicago group Do or Die’s influence as Wiley harmonizes his way through hooks and verses. To add another layer, Wiley meshes thought-provoking lines with slight touches of drill themes. The 21-year-old displays his influences and growth through the depths of personal stories he’s able to reach and express in his tales of living in “Wiley’s World.” Village Party‘s strengths lie in maintaining Chicago’s well-known street edge, while allowing listeners to explore how many sounds the city has to offer.
Wiley begins Village Party with an allusive welcoming while questioning listeners with a barrage of cloudy dream-like questions and a jungle of slowly creeping surrounding church choir chords. Wiley pulls off the challenging task of balancing his tranquil free spirit with menacing bars easily. “Please don’t make me pop that muthaf**kin’ trunk,” he warns. “The Free Thinking Nigga” elaborates on his foreshadowing of his success, while he expresses his surprised, but yet determined relationship with money on “See The Day.” On “#Takeoff #Takeoff,” Wiley gears up with his partner-in-rhyme Kembe X as they share their paranoia of being seen by police. The track is a roller coaster of vicious flows and unpredictable word choice.
Wiley’s fearless approach to get personal is shown in “Ideas (Adderall).” The track starts off with an upbeat rhythm met by a repetitive chant as he navigates through the music maze discussing his battle “to sit still” and contain his elusive ideas. Wiley raps effortlessly and relaxed, but switches it up on “Yung San Diego,” a cocaine connect influenced track with a deep stringing guitar. In songs like this, Wiley’s flow is similar to a machine-gun drumming out bullets leaving the track in a cloud of smoke. He is perfectly fine with being misunderstood as long as he can look in the mirror and proclaim “I’m that ni**a” like in “Splash Games.”
There are several tracks on ‘Village Party’ that tap into Wiley’s talents but none loops them tighter together than “Vibration.” “Vibration” is a fan favorite and defines who he is as an artist. Although sometimes it is overwhelming after a few listens, the Hippie Sabotage-created production is hard not to love. It’s Wiley in his zone and at his best.
The great thing about Village Party is the room for growth. With the city of Chicago and its first independent label Closed Sessions giving Alex Wiley support, this project can ascend his career and put his fusion of punk, trap and rap on the map. Here, he’s put his stamp on the rap game through his laid-back confidence and boastful attitude. With rap peers Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa ascending to new heights it is only a matter of time before Wiley’s fearless experimental sound rejuvenates hip-hop. Village Party continues to push the envelope through refreshing sounds and it dares listeners to evolve with it and accept a new standard.—Ryan Chandler