17 On The Frontline: Divine Council

“Divine council is all we got and all we want.”

The term Divine Council is defined as an assembly of which a “higher-level god presides”. This council is formed of an assembly of Deities, of whom are described as natural or supernatural beings considered to be divine or sacred. Many religions accept only one Deity which often referred to as god, whilst many religions worship multiple deities. For the Richmond rap group Divine Council there is only one Deity, each other.

Whilst speaking on the phone with the group in early January, member $ilk Money declares “Divine council, we are the creators of our own craft, we the leaders of our own destiny and we speak everything we want and everything we want to do into existence.” Merely teenagers they have already gained a cult following which has brought great fortune, yet what remains key is a genuine fondness for each other. Founder Lord Linco proclaims “Divine council is all we got and all we want.”

2016 seemed to be the resurgence of the Atlanta gatekeeper Andre 3000. Ever elusive he felt it necessary to lend his hand to the likes of Solange, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Kid Cudi and A Tribe Called Quest. All established and successful artists in their own right, yet one name seemed to stick out – Divine Council. Appearing on the remix of the dark and hypnotic ‘Decemba’ Andre delivered his longest and most indulgent verse of the year to a group of teenagers from Richmond, Virginia of whom to many were unknowns.

Composed of rappers $ilk Money, Lord Linco, Cyrax and producer Icytwat (not photographed), for many an Andre 3000 co-sign would be the be-all and end-all. Yet in conversation with the group it’s clear this only marks the beginning. As Linco explains “Its kind of funny cause I’m so grateful we can get around these people and we can do music with these people, but the way I feel about is even though we got the co-signs we still doing it on our own. A lot of artists aren’t going to get these co-signs because they can’t do it on their own. The fact we can do it on our own means we are going to get things like that.” He speaks with a determination in his voice that is unwavering and utterly convincing.

The first time I heard the verse I cried like a little bitch.

This isn’t to say the group weren’t pleased by the verse, as $ilk elates “Like I always say man the first time I heard the verse I cried like a little bitch. I was in my room, it was me and Cyrax and we just started crying. Like I’m smoking weed and coughing and crying and shit, I’m like this is just so hard.” He continues “Like we was going through so much before just before the song, it was such a stressful time for Divine Council, it was was so hard for us. So when that happened a weight was just lifted off our shoulders and it was just a reassurance.” Its a good sign when an Andre 3000 co-sign is only a hint of what’s to come.

We came up with the term audio pastel because we feel like you feel more of a colour from our music before you feel anything else.

Beyond all the hype, what got Divine Council noticed in the first place was their sound. Drawing from both dark 90’s nostalgia mixed with modern offbeat tendencies, they have created their own pallet. “We came up with the term audio pastel because we feel like you feel more of a colour from our music before you feel anything else. Before you would relate our sound to artist we feel like you would feel a colour from it. I feel and hear a lot colours from house music, and that includes a lot of the elements that Divine Council uses. Its more like a vibe, its more the sounds. I guess the lyricism paints a story and puts you in the world. Combine the two and it creates this audio pastel world.”

$ilk continues to describe the groups ethos when in the studio, “We all got our own process. I hate going to the studio and not having shit ready, I don’t like to be that dude in the studio just there trying to be inspired. I got in there with all shit ready to go so I can knock that bitch out and sit there and perfect it and figure it out, and then use the rest of the time to get inspired. We all go the studio together, we all do our own thing we got out little process. We in their watching the parkers and cartoons and shit. Getting high as fuck.”

When the hype train gets going it can easy to fall victim to its calling, yet for all members of Divine Council it seems they are very much happy staying in their own lane. Both $ilk and Linco have plans of dropping solo projects with $ilk stating he has plans to drop a project entitled ‘I hate my life’ and Linco dropping the second in his ‘Live young die hard’ mixtape series. Producer Icytwat seems to have the biggest year ahead, “I have an album dropping soon called Nuke, then in the summer I want to do an ep named for the bitches. And then i want to drop another album at the end of year. I just want to keep dropping hard ass shit for my fans so they can really have a catalogue.” When asked if any members want to collaborate with artists outside the group Cyrax both bluntly and jokingly puts, “Im trying to work with Janet Jackson and that’s it. Im not trying to work with any other rappers apart from my n****s.”

In only a brief time talking to Divine Council their humour and optimism becomes infectious, showing signs of not only spontaneity but longevity. Linco preaches “In the future we want to have our hands in a lot of different things. Not only music, cause the music thats forsure, we going to have Grammys and all that forsure. We really want to have investments like corner stores, chicken spots, barber shops you feel me, all that. Libraries, schools. Divine council is really for the people.” Each member riles him up as $ilk chimes in “In 10 years I have always said Divine Council is going to get this bread. Im trying to build a neighbourhood for me and all my n*****. We all got our own houses and we can all just go to each others houses and walk across the street. I got to get some sugar from Linco house, I just like ay yo I’m about to come get some sugar n*****. Just cool shit like that, like we pretty much got a dream book foreal, and its real thick. Full on shit we just want to do.”

That’s why with Divine Council we just going to continue to speak everything into existence cause thats how things have been happening for us.

They bounce off each other, with each individuals idea inspiring the other. Icytwat joins in stating “Shit in the future I just really see us running a big empire off our music and off our creative ideas. I see every idea that we have now in 10 years just being the biggest thing ever, you feel me. I know in 10 years we will be doing what we want to do.” Whilst to some this may sound like pipe dreams, for Divine Council pipe dreams have already become a reality. As $ilk fittings puts it “Everything we said we’ve wanted to do has happened. So we just going to stick with our mind state. So that’s why with Divine Council we just going to continue to speak everything into existence cause thats how things have been happening for us. We just be like we want to fucking do this and then it really happened.” Divine Council know what they possess, and have full faith in their already winning formula.

It becomes clear that Divine Council is much more a brotherhood than a group. Whilst they operate as a music collective, there is a bond that only they know the full extent of. Linco explains “I started Divine Council when I was 16 because there was so much fuck shit going on at home, that i was just so unhappy inside. It was a lot going on. Divine Council was the answer.” Cyrax joins in on a similar note “Divine Council is the only people that is on the same wave length that I’m on. Growing up I never had friends that were on the same shit that i was on, these are the only n****s the were on the same shit that I was on. I know I got to keep doing this shit, cause this the only way it will be forever.”

Whilst faith can be as clear as daylight and yet blind to another, Divine Council can all see the same calling. $ilk describes a recent occurrence whilst on tour. “I remember the second to the last show of the tour I saw a motherfucking UFO. On some real shit. And we was the only people that saw it. When I saw that UFO I really knew it was time to do something, we were the only people that saw it, no else looked at it. Shit like that man, this shit is mad spiritual. This shit is a religion to me, I’m agnostic. Divine council is my religion.”

You can listen to Divine Council live with DJ Semtex on 1 Xtra or see them perform their debut UK Show at Kamio in London tonight [28th January 2017].