Unorthodox War Dub: Nolay ‘The Godmother’

By Cammy Thomas

South London Grime veteran and ultimate tongue terrorist, Nolay, unleashed rockets, grenades and missiles, on a surprise war dub for her equal in Grime, the Godfather – Wiley. Was it planned between herself and Wiley, and another angle to keep the clashing energy in Grime live, was it something Nolay had on her chest for a long time and felt that now was the time to vent? Whatever the reason behind this stinging dub, it only adds to the entertainment, creativity and lyrical acrobatics we’ve all been enjoying since Dot’s dub dropped just before Christmas.

Before we get into the bars, we need to talk about the cover. Nolay is dressed head to toe in gangster garms and she manages to give off an air of don’t f*ck with me or I’ll rip your balls off, and a let me feed you strawberries on some femme fatale vibe; making the image one of tantalising danger. A nice touch to the imagery is Nolay’s choice to use the exact same font and style used for the much revered cult classic ‘The Godfather’ film posters, further cementing her place as ‘The Godmother’ of Grime.

The instrumental is brought to you by producer – Act natural and takes the riff from ‘The Apprentice’ theme tune (or if you want to go further back in time and you are a fan of classical music, ‘Dance of The Knights’ composed by Prokofiev) producer, Act Natural splits and flips it, bringing the infamous classical composition bang up to date with loops and a big dutty bass. Nolay’s first sentence “Don’t be stupid William…” sets the tone of the diss, as Nolay makes it apparent she has come to boy Wiley and spit some harsh truths, it’s reminiscent of Nicki Minaj telling us – “All these B!tches is my sons” for the last 10 years!

Make no mistake, this fierce MC does not need no help or handouts from the U.S or its Hip Hop artists when it comes to bodying MC’s, and has done just that since her undeniable presence within the grime genre from 2004 to present day. Nolay continues with her tirade of insults by telling Wiley she is “Going to part your wig like Moses, do you want tulips, lilies or roses…I’ll bring flowers to your grave.” She then warns all male MC’s not to underestimate her ability to spin any man into oblivion, by likening herself to an iceberg powerful enough to sink ships, she thinks that men in the scene are light weight like paper clips, and if they try and take the preverbal they will pay for it. Even shade doesn’t bother Nolay as when it’s thrown her way she sees it as an opportunity to lay in it and cool off because her bars are flames which makes her hot – The metaphor could be easily missed, but after a few listens it soon became my favourite metaphor on this warhead of a madness.

The Godmother of Grime looking buff in blue!

As is common with Grime dubs (See Dot Rotten’s diss ’96 Bars of Revenge Remix’ aimed at JME), Nolay takes Wiley’s own lyrics from his early sets “It’s Wiley and I’m gettin’ ‘em hyper” and boomerang blasts him with her own take “Ayo Wiley, you aint gettin em hyper, you don’t get dirty like a baby diaper, you went on the riddim like a lyrical sniper.” As Nolay states herself she is on crud, and is a rebel who did not break a sweat to pen the lyrics to her surprise, but welcome dub. She is ferocious, unapologetic, uncensored and raw, Nolay is stepping on necks and she won’t step off until she is good and ready. Near the end of track Nolay does something which I perceived to be intelligent, thought provoking, and all the way real, amidst all the hed tops being spun out of joint for our entertainment.

Equality advocate Nolay, briefly touches on the subject of colourism which has been a hot topic of debate for a few years now within Music, media, society and culture. Nolay quotes the lyric from the track ‘Heatwave’- “I wanna see a light skin gyal on the road…” and states she didn’t see one light skin or black girl in the video. We don’t know if that was the record labels decision or not, but Nolay’s sentiment makes you ponder yet again, if record labels and the media do perpetuate colourism knowingly or unknowingly, and it also makes you go back to Wiley’s ‘Heatwave’ video to verify if what Nolay claims is a cold harsh fact. Nolay’s refusal to remain silent on societal issues, which inevitably bleed into grime and music as a whole confirms what we already know – She’s a cold MC with a whole lot of intellect.

As the Godmother delivers her final shots like a massacre from the film ‘The Departed’ she draws for her last weapon of choice which conjures up the image of a spinning sphere laden with spikes and jagged metal edges in my mind, and flings it full force at presenter ZeZe Mills with its edges skimming Cardi B as it whizzes past her towards its intended target. After 16 years Nolay has still got it, and if this is just a warm up, who knows, Nolay might bring out her alter ego Isabella Gotti to go get ‘em for the next round.

(Photo and video credit: sbtv & Nolay)


*LISTEN* To Nolay’s ‘The Godmother’ (Wiley War Dub) Below: