Beats Below the Street

All of which brings us to the new Divine Styler album. His "lyrical fathom and harmony text" still intact after his seven-year, um, hiatus from hip-hop, Divine is once again battling the Devil from the depths of Hell in the name of the Almighty Allah. (Now we're talkin' underground!)

On his debut 10 years ago, Divine's acid-drenched linguistic seminars were already fully formed— one song's centerpiece was the sound of an extremely painful childbirth. But it was 1992's Spiral Walls Containing Autumns of Lightthat would make Divine a household name (at least in houses where all the scary drugs were). It still stands as the most deranged and psychically damaged rap record of all time. It's a harrowing and epic tale of the war between Satan and God for Divine's soul and the inner torment he goes through in order to achieve wisdom and enlightenment . . . oh, and be careful of gothic stonecutters, too. At times funky and beautiful, there really isn't anything else like it (not even that time the Jungle Brothers were picking up bad habits from Bill Laswell). You had to worry for the man's mental health— even his mommy wonders at one point if he's "psycho-spastic."

Well, he's back and as lyrically impenetrable as ever. Entitled Word Power: 2: Directrix, his new platter is a cyber-Islam assault on meaning, numbers, love, death, evil, and anyone slow enough to still gain inspiration from old Ultra Magnetic M.C. records. The last song even stresses the importance of vowels. (Hey, when Rakim asked, "Am I eternal or an eternalist," in 1987, I didn't understand what he meant either, but it sure sounded cool.) Metaphysics and theology get short shrift in other forms of popular music, and rappers don't get enough credit for making cars shake with discussions of the Illuminati. Somebody has to ask the hard questions. (And what were those stonecutters up to, anyway?)

Needle-happy Beat Junkies
Veronica De La Cruz
Needle-happy Beat Junkies

Whether Divine is the sound of the new millennium is immaterial. With help from Beat Junkie DJ Rhettmatic and other pals, he makes you thinkhe is. When Newcleus came out with "Space Is the Place" in 1985, the future was all about a cyborg dance. Divine's sci-fi vision is a tight buzzing sound that exists only in his head.

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