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Divine Styler

A shadowy yet definitive presence in rap music since the mid-'80s, Divine Styler has been described as the "Jimi Hendrix of hip hop" for his progressive, forward-looking music and visionary, enlightening verse. The Brooklyn-born rapper's life was changed when he made a pilgrimage to Mecca, and the experience seeps into all of his work. Divine Styler's first solo album, 1989's Wordpower, was a revolutionary document filled with meditations on spirituality, self-awareness, and empowerment. In 1991 he came back with Spiral Walls Containing Autumns of Life. Then, for the better part of the decade, he worked behind the scenes, producing, mixing, and guesting on various West Coast artists' joints, including Swollen Members' debut.

"Make it Plain," an inspiring blend of late '90s rap with early '70s Stevie Wonder-style funky soul that revisits the Islam-inspired spirituality of Divine Styler's '93 single "Grey Matter," is taken from the No Mayo compilation The Funky Precedent. The track also appears on Divine Styler's 1999 solo LP Word Power 2 on Mo' Wax. Word Power 2 also includes "Sound Quest" and "Directrix," both guaranteed head-nodding numbers featuring futuristic, paranoid atmospheres and smooth vocal flows. On all of these tracks DS waxes deeply philosophical, elevating his lyrics to the next level of thought and feeling.