Divine Council, left to right: $ilkmoney, Cyrax, ICYTWAT, Lord Linco / Photos by Hannah Sider, courtesy of Divine Council
Late one night about a year ago, this Vine showed up in a friend of mine’s Twitter feed. A glitchy, enticing song by someone called “$ilkmoney” built around the “your call cannot be completed” tone and paired with a gnarly, informercial-nightmare visual of a CGI phone receiver rotating above a shaking ass? It was both weird and totally compelling.
As it turned out, the Vine—a snippet of the song “Telephone Mane”—was also a perfect introduction to the exciting work of the rap collective Divine Council. The group is composed of Richmond, Virginia-based rappers Lord Linco, Cyrax!, and the aforementioned $ilkmoney, as well as Chicago-based producer ICYTWAT. Their aesthetic is forged in the bowels of the Internet (when you’re not at work, check out their website, wet-twat.com), obsessed with dark, 90s-nostalgia imagery and sounds (Cyrax, of course, takes his name from the Mortal Kombat character). They’re supported by a ride-or-die social media following (netting six-digit playcounts on Soundcloud regularly), yet the collective is still enigmatic and obscure (If you Google “Divine Council,” the first result is the web 1.0 website of a biblical scholar).
The enigma persists, but the obscurity is quickly coming to an end. In the span of just a few months, Divine Council has gone from an Erykah Badu Twitter shout out to having a hug circle with her at South by Southwest, where they also performed. ($ilkmoney had a sore throat after their show, for which Badu made him a “tonic.”) They also recently inked a deal with Epic Records, and none other than Andre 3000 called in during their meeting with L.A. Reid to give his endorsement. (He and Badu’s 18-year-old son, Seven, put him on.) And their first album, Council World, a “hard-ass song” compilation “to get the general public up to speed on Divine,” is tentatively scheduled to drop May 13.
Taking a tour through the group’s already impressive catalog, you get a sense of the specific but diverse vibe they’re after: funny and ironic at times, dark and somber at others—but thoroughly fresh and unusual throughout. Exuberant slap “PS42WW$” finds $ilkmoney chilling at Nemo and Dory’s fabled destination; “Lavender,” meanwhile, has a heavily reverbed Lord Linco over a tinkling piano melody longing for home. ICYTWAT handles production for many of their songs, with a spare but vibrant production style that often sounds something like Metro Boomin playing Sega Genesis with Sade in a haunted house.
Now, with the premiere of the video for “DBSB,” shot by Miggy, the guys are poised to fully transcend their web celebrity. I spoke to them on the phone and quickly got a sense of their deeply funny rapport and enthusiasm that rises well above easy online irony, as well as a few stories about their recent brushes with fame.
Noisey: How did Divine Council get started?
Cyrax!: Divine Council started originally with Linco. He had the idea for that shit. Then I jumped on, and me and him was just rocking for a minute. And then $ilk joined.
$ilkmoney: Before I was really into making music, I was always writing shit. I never had any beats or anything to record my songs—or any intentions to even make music. I was just selling weed. That was my shit. I loved selling weed. That was my bitch. That was my livelihood. And one day I had sold some weed to that nigga Linco, and I was in a car with that nigga, and at the time he was about to drop a tape called Unlit. He was playing me Unlit. That shit was hard as fuck. I just started spitting him some shit that I had in my phone, that I had wrote in there. And instantly, that nigga was like, “yo, that shit is hard as a bitch. You in Divine Council.”
ICYTWAT, how did you link up with them?
ICYTWAT: I linked up through Twitter and shit. I was already fans of them, and I was following them. I had finally switched over to ICYTWAT and changed my name from KassperDahmer. I started switching up my beats. I think I sent a beat to Cyrax first, then I sent one to $ilk, then one to Linco, and then Linco made “Shorty.” Silk made “Foolie.” And then after that, Silk called me one day in 2014, and he was just like, “who you fuck with? Who you down with?” And I was like, “nobody, really.” And then he was like, “fuck it then, we was trying to have you join the Council.” And the rest is history.
Linco, how did you come up with the name and image for Divine Council?
Lord Linco: I just thought it would be a good idea to have a collective of artists. We could all come together, but we could all do our solo shit. So we're just bringing each other to the top as we all go. It's a team effort. As far as the name, I wouldn't say I'm religious, but I'm just real conscious when it comes to spiritualism. Divine Council, you can tell by how it sounds. Council: It's a team. It's a force, you feel me.
$ilkmoney: Everybody got a specialty. Everybody specializes in something. It's like one of those video games where everybody got their own trait.
Lord Linco: We're like the Power Rangers, you feel me. We all come together.
Cyrax!: It's like a Megazord when we all come together.
$ilkmoney: We're the legs, the arms, the torso, and the head, all that shit together. We're the Megazord.
So you guys just signed with Epic?
Cyrax!: Got signed to Epic Records by the homie L.A. Reid.
$ilkmoney: If my nigga L.A. Reid don't trust you, I will bust you, nigga.
How did it all come about?
$ilkmoney: Well, last year, like October, we had got our first—I count this as our first—real, official show in New York at SOB’s for CMJ’s “Leaders of the New Cool” artist showcase. We did shows and shit around Richmond, but it wasn't no real show. They flew us out to NY and got us the best show fucking ever. And it was cool as fuck, ‘cause at the same time, when we get there, that nigga Andre 3000 wanted to meet us.
ICYTWAT: This nigga just walks in, like, “yo, what's up.”
$ilkmoney: And the nigga just sits down next to us, just eating tomato soup and shit. Just eating tomato soup, talking about how he big fans of us and shit.
Cyrax!: It was dead ass a brand new experience, man. We ain't never been in some shit like that.
$ilkmoney: Hell yeah, I ain't never been nowhere nice, nigga. That shit was tight. That was my first time riding a plane.
You also met Erykah Badu recently, at South by Southwest. What was that like?
$ilkmoney: We was deadass holding back tears of joy. That was a very emotional moment. Meeting Eyrkah Badu was deadass like playing a game that finally you get to that point in the game where it's just like, “Wow. Damn. I'm finally here. I'm fucking here.”
Linco: It was really a dream come true.
Cyrax!: That shit was crazy. We could really tell she really loved us.
$ilkmoney: Like as soon as we seen her, the first two things she said to us was that she was proud of us and that she loved us. That means a lot to me.
Cyrax!: That was the best day.
$ilkmoney: That was the best day of my life. Badu my motherfuckin mama, nigga. We leaning on the stage, we fucking five feet from her while she performing, watching the best show I ever seen in my life, my nigga. Trying my hardest not to cry.
Linco: I deadass cried. I did.
$ilkmoney: Bro, that shit was a dream come true, for real. Her music deadass raised me. I love her. That's my all-time favorite artist. For her to sit there and really be that receptive to us and love us like that, that means a lot. It was a part, when we was sitting there—‘cause we was the last ones to leave, ‘cause we was just there talking to her—and we just all put our hands together and just felt each other's energies and shit. It was amazing. We all just put our hands together and then just closed our eyes and just vibrated, felt each other's energies and vibes and shit. Shit was like, I never thought in my life I would be doing that with my niggas with Eyrkah Badu. We just some dirty niggas from Richmond and Chicago. We ain't never been nowhere nice. The nicest place I'd been to was Cheesecake Factory. For real.
Joseph Henry Staten is a writer with an internet connection based in New York. Follow him on Twitter.