Wednesday, March 14, 2007

the search is still on...

The Search is Still On…
By Susana Ferreira

Raise your hand if you miss the mid-‘90s. Nothing captured or embodied that optimistic energy in quite the same way as a little magazine from London, Ontario called In Search of… Divine Styler, whose best is now collected in book form.

Created, published, and almost entirely written and designed by Ryan Somers (previously known as Fritz Tha Cat) from ‘96 to ‘99, the cut-and-paste rap zine quickly grew into a taste-maker for the hip-hop underground, eventually reaching a distribution of 10,000 across North America. Somers started the mag as part of a devoted search for lost rapper Divine Styler, a New York-born, L.A.-bred legend who had disappeared from the scene in the early ‘90s. The search for “divine” meant more than seeking out one man, though. “We do it for all the ‘Divine Stylers’ out there,” proclaims an old editorial, “the creative, but overlooked people in this subculture.” Divine Styler acted as a border-crossing ambassador for dope music, and a catalyst for a handful of underground movements and collaborations. Its legacy is mightier than the photocopy paper it was printed on.

The book itself is a balance of issue re-prints and nostalgic re-caps, placing each article and interview in the context of the era’s music and creative climate. It sheds light on some of the remotest corners of hip-hop history, and is a testament to the amazing feats accomplished by Somers and his family of ballsy collaborators — including finally tracking down the zine’s namesake in ’97 and inspiring him to get to work on his comeback album. Other highlights include an attempt to contact Eazy-E with an ouija board, a Kwest interview conducted by a phone sex operator, and interviewer Druncnes Monstr telling Murs, “I’m gonna kick your ass.”

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