Grime pioneer Wiley stripped of MBE

<span>Wiley pictured in 2021.</span><span>Photograph: Yui Mok/PA</span>
Wiley pictured in 2021.Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

Grime music pioneer Wiley has been stripped of his MBE on the grounds of “bringing the honours system into disrepute”. A notice posted to the Cabinet Office website announced the change.

In 2020 Wiley – AKA Richard Cowie, 45 – caused hurt and outrage with an antisemitic rant posted to social media, in which he stated: “There are 2 sets of people who nobody has really wanted to challenge #Jewish & #KKK … Red Necks Are the KKK and Jewish people are the Law.” He also wrote: “Israel is ours … The Star of David that’s our ting.” He later apologised for “generalising and going outside of the people who I was talking to within the workspace and workplace I work in,” following a dispute with his Jewish manager, but didn’t retract the comments and denied being racist.

In 2021, antisemitic content was posted to a Twitter account made under his name, including a video entitled “The Jewish faces that control hiphop and mainstream black music”, with Twitter (now X) soon permanently suspending the account.

That year he was also charged with assault and burglary after allegedly breaking into the home of friend and kickboxer Ali Jacko. The following year, police in the London borough of Newham circulated a wanted poster for Cowie, stating that he had failed to appear for a court hearing for the alleged offence.

Wiley had been awarded his MBE in 2017, saying at the time: “It feels like the school grade I wanted and didn’t get but now I’m finally there.”

He was recognised for a commercially successful and critically acclaimed music career as a producer and rapper, having crafted grime as a distinct British form of rap music. Cowie then took it into the mainstream and branched out into other styles, scoring a string of Top 10 hits including Wearing My Rolex, Reload and the No 1 single Heatwave. He had a comeback in 2019 with the single Boasty, which featured Idris Elba and others.