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Wiley Kat is part Marley Marl, part Lil Jon, part Maurice Starr. He surrounds himself with the grime garage all-stars, branded his own sound (“eski” or “eskimo”), and mentored the biggest star to come up from the muck: Dizzee Rascal. (Oh, now you’re interested.) So when it was announced he’d follow Dizzee to XL, the hardcore got all sniffly. “He’s just ridin’ Captain Rasclaat’s coattails innit, blud?”

People say Wiley only has one type of beat. Wrong. He has three types. (More than DJ Premier, less than Timbaland.) The first is the cyber-jugband. The second sounds like a kid throwing metal rocks at a barn for four minutes. The third is Fennesz if he realized summer latitudes sometimes get funky.

Wiley says he’s gotta Pick Himself Up and Do Something. He doesn’t know what it is—neither do I, and I’m older—but his heart’s in the right place. He’s all heart, in fact. Over hard-drive flutters in “Doorway,” he describes a familiar cycle: First he had money, then he had none, repeat. Unless you just signed to Roc-a-Fella, you’ll probably relate.