Rapper Andre Travis, aka Dre Trav, is a natural. And that's not to say he doesn't put in work, because he does. He's a natural because he's gifted with a low affect rasp of a voice and a brilliant ear for back beats plus a casual poetic sway that separates him from everybody else.
He's had a busy 2016, and in August, Travis released "Create Your Own Constellation" with producer 18sense as CAliens. A couple of months later, on Oct. 4, he followed it up with "Rare FLWRS," a dark full length album, three years in the making, produced by Gabonano. They're of similar strands and syncopation, but where the first album feels a bit like mixtape patchwork, "Rare FLWRS" is Dre Trav focused and linear.
His music is smooth and sounds easy for him to make. He's fluid over opaque production, and on songs like "Eyelis," from "Create Your Own Constellation," his sandpaper delivery is a flawless accent for turbulent samples and fluctuating drums.
Even though Travis is laid back in approach, his lyrics are full of barbs and sharp edges -- "Playing hookie for that nookie, even broke n----- getting p---- / Rather have more ends than close friends / Time don't stop / People do" -- he raps on "WORDS like SWORDS" from his "Rare FLWRS" LP.
He's a San Diego native who grew up in Emerald Hills, but his sound doesn't reflect any regional bias. He's universal with appeal that's based on mood rather than geography, as listening to Dre Trav's music means exploring a space of curious contours and subtle idiosyncrasies. It's a place where exotic plants bloom, and listeners are encouraged to design their own star maps. And in all honesty, what's better than that?