Divine Styler


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World Power (1989), 5/10
Spiral Walls Containing Autumns of Light (1992), 7/10
Wordpower Vol.2 - Directrix (1999), 4/10
Def Mask (2014), 4.5/10
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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 Prince-esque 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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