West Coast Styles

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Having first emerged as an integral part of Ice-T’s Rhyme $yndicate organization, native Brooklyn, New Yorker Divine Styler dropped his critically lauded, yet commercially panned, debut, Word Power, in October 1989.

Despite not reaching global success and becoming more of a household name, make no mistake ‘cause DS1 still remains a highly regarded factor from the early ‘90’s West Coast Underground scene.


First things first, last year (August 11th to be exact) marked the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop — What exactly does that mean to and for you?

Gonna play Devil’s Advocate and say that Hip Hop generates over 14 Billion dollars annually for corporations globally, while its creators, creatives, forefathers / pioneers and designers see less than a fraction of that. While we have no banking, no health insurance, no unions, no pension, no savings infrastructure. Streaming services, social media sites, 360 deals have turned Hip Hop into digital sharecropping. We work our own landscape for the property rights owners. The data collected is then sold to other corporations for 2nd and 3rd tier monetization. Until the powerful players within the art form take control of the body, 50 years of Hip Hop will continue to be just an aging number, in my opinion.

To quote the late, great The Notorious B.I.G., “You never thought that Hip Hop would take it this far!” — Was this something that you ever could’ve imagined?

I would have never imagined the effect this genre would have on the world. When I was young, the adults would always say it won’t last 10 years. Y’all need to finish your education, so you have something to fall back on because it won’t last forever. And, here we are.

What are some of your fondest, most stand-out moments / memories during your lengthy tenure in this thing called Hip Hop?

My fondest memories will always be from around ‘77, ‘78-‘89. From the park jams, block parties, community centers to Union Square, Latin Quarter, PowerHouse and all the wild ass New York clubs in between. During that time frame, you could taste the power in the air. The music, the fashion, the synergy was palatable. Being in a club when Red Alert played “Ego Trippin” for the 1st time is indescribable, or “Go Stetsa I” “Go Brooklyn.” People will never be able to understand what it was like to experience that power. It was tribal. Mad violent, the whole club is in sync. Club security choking dudes out, but we never stopped dancing or missing a beat. It’d be total chaos and perfection operating simultaneously in the same space.

That said, what are your future plans and / or goals throughout the remainder of 2024 and beyond?

For the remainder of the year, it’s unknown considering geopolitics. We’ve been in a soft World War 3 since Ukraine’s war started in 2021-‘22, so who really knows.

Switching gears here, what exactly do you want people to get from your music?

I’d like people to get from my music how important it is to remain vulnerable, take chances, and be inspired from non Hip Hop sources. Apply different principles to your creativity in whatever form of the music you’re doing.

If you could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?

It would probably be Betty Carter, the Jazz singer or Mahavishnu Orchestra, the band. They’re two extreme ends of the music spectrum. But from growing up with such a broad range of music in my home and a lot of Jazz / Fusion and Avant-Garde, their music has greatly affected me. To name a few.

If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?

Don’t really have an answer for this one. Not big on performing these days.

On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of Hip Hop?

I’m indifferent. It’s not my world any more, respectfully. Although, I still produce and chop beats.

What do you feel has and will continue to be the key to your longevity?

I’m not sure I have longevity in the traditional sense. I’ll make a record when I’m moved to, and I pretty much will make a record for myself because I like being creative. And not to appear cynic, I’m just not gonna receive compensation in valued energy for the work. It’s too much of a battle for very little in return.

Do you have any other outside / additional (future) aspirations, maybe even completely away from entertainment?

I’ve shifted my focus on studying computer science. All open source and freedom tech, such as Linux, cryptography, cybersecurity and understanding the A.I. development paradigm.

Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans…

With fans of the music, I’m always interested in what they are inspired by and emphasize if this is something you’re into, don’t quit your day job. The sacrifice is great. Do your research and prepare accordingly.

What is your favorite part about this line of work? Your least favorite? And, why?

The best part of this line of work for me is the inception point. That moment of inspiration and what triggers it. Gathering the source material to create something.

What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Read topics on various parts of the industry. Get good counsel.

Looking ahead, say five or maybe even ten years from now, where do you see yourself?

If the psychopathic world governments don’t destroy the planet, hopefully, I’ll be Farm steading and hanging out with my animals.

Is there anything I left out or just plain forgot to mention?


Any “parting” words for our readers?

The world is moving too fast to get a footing for a direction on anything these days. If music is something you’re thinking about, study the past. Study the first 10 years of Hip Hop. Blues, Jazz, Funk, its origins and how they evolved from one to another. Read autobiographies; Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, Books like that. Always talk to your elders for musical history from their experience / perspective. If you’re a creative, stay away from The 48 Laws of Power.



Divine Styler: Divinity Stylistics #HH50

Divine Styler: Divinity Stylistics #HH50

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