Divine Styler, the project of New York's rapper and producer Mark Richardson (who converted to Islam and changed his name to Mikal Safiyullah),
a member of gangsta rapper Ice-T's Rhyme Syndicate,
debuted with the mediocre rapping (and sometimes simple spoken word)
of World Power (1989), that nonetheless contains a bizarre
Tongue of Labyrinth.
Spiral Walls Containing Autumns of Light (Giant, 1992) is instead a work of
abstract psychedelic hip-hop music.
The cheesy Muslim prayers (the
funk-soul-rock shuffle In A World Of You with
Santana-esque guitarwork, or
Walk of Exodus, a hypnotic
Nick Cave-esque sermon with an orchestral coda)
coexist with languid, stoned litanies
over lethargic beats like Touch
(that becomes a sort of pounding voodoo dance).
There is a delirious collision of vocals and instruments Grey Matter
and a grotesque Dadaistic acceleration in Mystic Sheep Drink Electric Tea.
There is even room for the whispered acoustic folk elegy of Width In My Depth.
The meandering spoken-word sections are a mixed blessing:
the nine-minute Heaven Don't Want Me-Hell's Afraid I'll Take Over is littered with noisy free-form improvisation, and
Next surfs over groovey soul-jazz organ lines.
The instrumental base is intriguing but the "speaking"
wastes all the momentum created by the idiosyncratic textures.
After a long hiatus he returned with the mediocre
Wordpower Vol.2 - Directrix (1999), and, after an even longer hiatus,
with Def Mask (2014), updated to dubstep and drum'n'bass.
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