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09th Jan 2020

Who won the Stormzy vs. Wiley beef?

Kyle Picknell

Just like Robot Wars, this battle will be judged on Style, Control, Damage and Aggression

Weird isn’t it, that the world is slowly teetering towards some kind of Donald Trump-led nuclear holocaust and yet we’re all more concerned with two Grime MCs very passively-aggressively sipping cups of tea and insulting each other’s mum. But hey, people like what they like.

And what they like is: war dubs, not actual war. What they like is: Big Mike and Eskiboy going toe to toe over old grime instrumentals on a daily basis until we’re forced to retreat into our underground bunkers with no WiFi or 4G or even 3G and do the things people did before the advent of grime like eating beans straight out of the tin and completing exactly half of the hard Sudoku challenge in the paper before getting stuck and moving on to the easy one. You know, to feel good about yourself. As a treat.

As I can’t pretend to be any sort of authority on grime, right up until this very moment, I’m going to score the two using the same tried and tested method as Robot Wars, the greatest television show in the history of the world. If Style, Control, Damage and Aggression are suitable criteria for the likes of Chaos 2, Razer and Hypno-Disc to be judged upon, then they’re good enough for Wiley and Stormz. In my opinion. Which is all that counts, really.


Wiley’s profile picture on Twitter is a car. Going to have to deduct approximately one thousand style points for that immediately. It puts him in the same bracket, stylistically, as every single bald, middle-class white man out there who constantly tweeting things like: “Don’t usually agree with him but have to say, well said Piers Morgan. You win the internet for the day ?”, and Knight Rider. Not a good look.

Stormzy, meanwhile, has the exact same beard as an Amish farmer and yet nobody ever mentions it. Why? Why does nobody mention Stormzy having the exact same beard as an Amish farmer, typically a death sentence for anybody trying to make it in the world of grime? Because everything else about him is so stylish. It’s nothing groundbreaking; clean, minimalist outfits and being absolutely fucking massive, but it works. Looking like you’ve been carved out of marble x all black t-shirt, jeans and baseball cap = good aesthetics, in my opinion.

In his second video, Still Disappointed, all he needed to do to mix things up was… put a black puffer jacket over the top. Effortless. Again: Wiley’s profile picture is a car.

Stormzy 1 – 0 Wiley

Control (or lack thereof)

Never really understood precisely what ‘Control’ meant in the specific context of Robot Wars, a show in which people from Leicester built robots out of an old remote-controlled monster truck and whatever common gardening tool they had lying about in the shed at the time. Do you really want these completely mad feats of engineering, a motorised mop bucket with a trowel super-glued to the top, to exhibit any semblance of ‘Control’? You don’t, do you? You want them to do all the things they usually do on Robot Wars like start an unnecessary fight with a house robot, light themselves on fire and accidentally spin-reverse into the pit. All within about 20 seconds of entering the arena. Ideally, that’s what you want to see. Not restraint. Not composure.

The same is, of course, true about grime battles. Wiley, to his credit, has shown absolutely zero control during the escalation of this particular beef. He has tweeted the laughing-crying emoji more times than other human being in history over the last few days and is basically grime’s Donald Trump at this point, if you swap tweeting ‘PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!!!’ every few minutes for ‘I need 20k followers and then I will drop the dub #LetsGo’. 

By contrast, Stormzy has veered drastically from ‘very in control’ in Disappointed, cup of tea and joint in hand rapping bars like “I’m too BBC Breakfast (Woo)”, to completely and totally unhinged in Still Disappointed, which is basically a two minute and 47 second-long conspiracy theory about Wiley’s mum secretly living in Cyprus set to an iconic Kano instrumental.

On balance, however, Wiley has been far more consistently reckless in his pursuit of the beef and takes this round on the basis that he’s willing to risk throwing away his legacy as the ‘Godfather of Grime’ to an entirely new generation of fans just so he can take the piss out of Ed Sheeran. You have to respect it, you really do.

Stormzy 1 – 1 Wiley


Arguably the single most important category, damage. Arguably the only thing that really matters in Robot Wars. Whether, at the end of the round, your robot is left intact or whether it is now a toasted, crumpled husk of its former self. In this respect, both Stormzy and Wiley are… well, fine, actually. They’re both fine. Stormzy is fine and Wiley is fine. They’re both completely OK. Wiley has the publicity for his new album that he wanted whilst Stormzy has gone back to his harder, Big Mike roots and reminded the pop-sceptics that he does, in fact, still have it.

Regretfully, however, the collateral damage is substantial. Stormzy’s mum can no longer shop at Croydon market for fear of having the weave ripped off her head, while the Cowie family have an awkward Christmas to look forward to. We’ll just call this round a tie.

Stormzy 2 – Wiley 2


For a man who once genuinely wrote the lyric “I wanna get a slush puppy with both flavours/Drink that now I’m right back in my zone”, spitting the internalised thoughts of a small child at an Odeon, Wiley is notoriously aggressive. Similarly, when Stormzy was bobbing along to a pan flute remix in the park and telling people to shut up it was a lot more aggressive than the setup implied. Indeed, both rappers’ willingness to threaten each other either via bringing a machine gun to their house (Wiley) or slapping them in the face/having intercourse with mumzy (Stormzy), is, well… it’s quite violent, isn’t it? It is undoubtedly quite aggressive.

With that in mind, and with it extremely difficult to separate the two on the surface level of ‘fucking hell, that song was a bit mean’, we must dig deeper. The case for Wiley comes in the form of his mock dancing in the video for Eediyat Skengman 2There are very few actions more aggressive than copying someone’s dance moves in a derogatory fashion. After all, it’s the quickest and easiest way to hurt someone’s feelings enough to start a fight at a school disco and it remains just as effective here, even if you’re in your 40s and attempting to rinse a literal Glastonbury headliner.

Unfortunately for Wiley, telling someone you are disappointed in them, rather than mad, and then reiterating that disappointment a second time is one of the very few things that is more aggressive. Along with invading Czechoslovakia after you’ve explicitly promised you wouldn’t invade Czechoslovakia.

Ask yourself, honestly: Were you more upset, as a child, when a parent was shouting at you or when a parent was telling you they were disappointed? Which was worse: getting sent to bed for attempting wrestling moves on an unsuspecting sibling or the silent car ride home from parents evening after you’ve let your mum, and your geography teacher down, yet again? Exactly. There can only really be one winner.

Final score: Stormzy 3 – 2 Wiley

(Note to Wiley: please don’t drop Eediyat Skengman 3 five minutes after this is published. Also don’t send for me. I really can’t be arsed)