Divine Styler – Word Power (1989) (CD) (FLAC + 320 kbps)
Divine Styler was a bit of a strange fellow. He was a thinking man’s thinking man. His compositions were dense with Islam, progressiveness, politics and scathing critique. How it failed is quite evident. He was simply ahead of his time. While De La Soul had proven that there was room and space in the scene for the weird and eccentric, there wasn’t yet space for the weird, eccentric and unaccessible. That is what we have in Word Power.
It’s not completely unlistenable and unaccessible. In fact, quite the opposite. It has this curious magnetism. The closest correlation so far from 1989 is the way the Schoolly D record Am I Black Enough For You? managed to take proven elements that had worked for other groups or hip hop acts and display them in ways that we had yet to see either from the level of lyrical content or the production.
Word Power is an urgent and frantic masterpiece. From a musicality standpoint, it’s production has this oddly rough and under-produced quality which, surprisingly, works. Even the obligatory house track, “Last House on the Left,” has a wonderfully unsettling feel which offers just enough peculiarity to grab the listener. But it’s the production on tracks like “Koexistin U4RIA,” “Play It for the Divine,” and “Ain’t Sayin’ Nothin’” that truly set it apart from its counterparts.
Divine Styler, as an emcee, is a man amongst boys, but often, fails to connect because of his eccentricism, which is probably one of the tragedies of the album. It’s often difficult to tell if he’s being real, cynical, critical or humorous because, largely, his tone is static through the entire recording. But, we can’t fault a man for attempting or aspiring to greatness which is quite evidently what Styler was doing. It simply is too much for one recording to hold.
But similar to all things that are ahead of their time, their greatness is never fully recognized because by the time heads are ready, the world has moved onto other things. Such is the case with Divine Styler. Clearly talented, but labels didn’t have a clue on what to do with him. The scene didn’t know how to receive him. Audiences simply didn’t care. But the richness that is Word Power makes it well worthy of a second listen here two decades later. /sonofbyford/
1 Introduction 0:46
2 Free Styler 5:17
3 Get Up On It 4:40
4 The Last Black House On The Left 6:45
5 It’s A Black Thing 5:09
6 Play It For Divine 2:47
7 Koxistin U4ria 3:40
8 Ain’t Sayin’ Nothin’ 4:16
9 Divinity Stylistics 4:11
10 Tongue Of Labyrinth 5:23
11 In Divine Style 1:46
12 Rain 4:31
13 Word Power 4:48