Alex Wiley’s new album Village Party feels like deliverance on a particular piece of our conversation with him from last September. On his influences, Wiley said:
“Basically my dad grew up when black music was disco, and he hated disco. So this black dude with an afro was going into this super suburban high school, and he ended up listening to Led Zeppelin and shit like that. So then I grew up on Led Zeppelin and AC/DC and Alice in Chains and lots of ‘90s shit. Just like classic, original metal. I liked a lot of Black Sabbath, Rush is one of my favorite bands. I really like Rush. I liked Aerosmith, kind of the standard stuff, and then within the past few months I really got into Cage the Elephant. I like the Arctic Monkeys and bands like Little Dragon and Mars Volta. I really like that type of music. I see that as being like a higher form of music than rap and I’m really trying to touch that level with my rap music. It’s difficult to make rap that’s that well put together, so that’s kind of what I’m trying to do.“
While Village Party doesn’t sound like Mars Volta making a rap album, it is easily Wiley’s most ambitious, eclectic, and accomplished set to date.
The Chicago rapper weaves animated raps and melodies across a cohesive glut of inventive, cinematic production, passionate and sonically adventurous without ever stray too far from the home base of hip-h0p. Village Party is a dizzying experience, densely referential (its production and lyrics are as indebted to Outkast and Parliament Funkadelic as they are to any number of various Chicago hip-hop artists) and at once more than a collection influences—a young artist making a vibrant collage of the pieces in his brain.
Stream Village Party below.