Wiley has refused to distance himself from antisemitic comments he posted on social media, after the grime artist found himself banned from both Twitter and Facebook over his recent posts.
On Friday, Wiley wrote a a series of antisemitic tweets comparing Jews to the Ku Klux Klan and calling them snakes. Twitter’s initial lack of action on the tweets led to criticism from Jewish organisations, followed by a 48-hour boycott of the site by many leading journalists and politicians. Wiley has since split with his manager, who is Jewish.
When asked by Sky News if he accepted that his comments were antisemitic, Wiley said: “My comments should not have been directed to all Jews or Jewish people.
“I just want to apologise for generalising and going outside of the people who I was talking to within the workspace and workplace I work in,” he told the channel. “I want to apologise for generalising, and I want to apologise for comments that were looked at as antisemitic.”
Some Sky News staff have raised internal concerns about the decision to give a platform to a man who has been banned from leading social media sites for his antisemitic comments.
According to Sky, at times during the interview Wiley became agitated “yelling directly at the camera and, at one point, jumping up and pounding his chest”.
The rapper’s Jewish former manager John Woolf told the channel that he had “cut ties” with Wiley and said he would no longer represent the artist.
Wiley said in the interview: “I’m not racist, you know. I’m a businessman. My thing should have stayed between me and my manager, I get that.”
Asked about what he would say to his fans who may incite hatred or commit violent acts against Jewish people, he replied: “Well, you’ve never seen me commit a violent act towards Jewish people or the Jewish community.”
His tweets have been reported to the Metropolitan police as potential hate speech, while Twitter has banned him for violating policies on hateful content.
Wiley had already announced his retirement from the music industry earlier this summer alongside the release of his album Godfather III.
He told Sky News: “You know, fans are fickle. Don’t wind me up. I’m 41 years old. It’s not like I have got a big bag of fans. Leave it. I’m not Dave. I’m not current. I’m at the end of my career rather than the beginning.”
The rapper Beardyman said he had spoken with Wiley, one of the pioneers of the British grime scene, about the issue. “He really believes the stuff he tweeted,” he wrote. “I tried many times to demonstrate the equivalence between all forms of prejudice. He concurred every time but quickly lurched back into rage-filled conspiracy each time.”