I wanted to create a project that represents my experiences as a young artist and musician that expresses all the trials, life lessons and memorable moments in my life so far. Music has given me everything I have, so I wanted to give my all to this record. From the production standpoint and the songwriting, I really focused on a sound that could relate to the culture of my generation. Plus, the music incorporates all of the information and music passed on from the generations of musicians and influences passed down to me. This record attempts to tackle social issues such as inner city struggles of the youth. Topics include; being different in a black community and trying to find your own sense of confidence, dealing with peer pressure, speaking on relationships that ended when I moved away from New York, and an overall sense of my dedication to the art and, how I can leave a positive impact through it.
“My goal for this recording was to feature arrangements interweaving jazz melodies and harmonies that had specific West African rhythms underlying them,” Divine recalled.
“More recently I studied West African chant and classical saxophone with Yosvany at the New School. The main things I looked for when selecting musicians for this recording were how well versed they were in jazz, spiritual and gospel music and also how familiar they were with West African grooves,” he continued. “Brett has such a strong lyrical presence on piano; you can really hear the influence of soul and gospel in his harmonics,” Divine said. “Anton holds everything down with a rock-solid bottom on bass and Justin is the perfect catalyst on drums – he’s able to maintain momentum, move things forward and light a fire under everybody when necessary!”
The album leads off with its title track and right from the start one hears the various stylistic elements that inform Divine’s writing as well as his and his bandmates’ playing. Rather than having one central pulse to focus on, “The Element” features several textural variations on a common theme that climax and change in energy according to which player one happens to be listening to. “Love Tap To The Solar Plexus” is a metric tune that, in addition to sections with four beats per measure, has one in 15/8 clearly influenced by West African rhythms. “The Assassin,” is a modal composition in the spirit of mid-1960s modern jazz classics like Coltrane’s “One Down, One Up” and McCoy Tyner’s “Four By Five.” The progressions and harmonies of “Night Is Near” pay tribute to Wayne Shorter whose music Divine not only learned on the sax but also on the piano; one hears echoes of “Children Of The Night” at the beginning of the tune and elements of “Speak No Evil” are quoted at the end. “Ajna” is inspired by Divine’s interest in Hindu practices and teachings; the word is sanskrit for the Third Eye Chakra of intuition and intellect. “Griot’s Tale,” one of the most popular songs in Divine’s repertoire, is a tribute to his father.