Back when newsstands reigned, before the world wide web, the Source magazine was rap music's bible. Its words were law, the ultimate press authority for the culture, and their mic rating system for reviewing albums was the universal standard.
It ranged from one to five mics, with one being the lowest and five designating a classic; they weren't easy to come by, but most of the records that received the five-mic stamp are still considered some of the best ever.
And while releases aren't measured on a microphone scale anymore, if they were, San Diego rapper Dre Trav and producer Tall Drk's latest project, "Yamms," would have five of them.
Absolutely, the two have crafted a masterwork -- 17 songs shaped from insight and thoughtfulness that brilliantly articulate the peaks and valleys of the human experience.
Over avant loops, Dre Trav sorts through ideas on accomplishment, growth and adversity. And through a voice that's honest, even pained at times, he provides spaces that are compelling, deep -- moving.
"I try to take people on a journey with me," he says, and it's his ability to translate where he was while making this music that makes it so engaging.
Whether it's navigating conflict ("unlocked achievements, even in moments of disagreement" via the cacophonous "Peace of Mind") or suggesting that missteps help shape who we become ("beautiful mistakes made us more than capable," as he raps on "For Every Action"), there's a sense of transparency that makes the music easy, attractive and approachable.
No doubt, it's a project that transcends rap's usual chest-pounding and persona, replacing those traditions for so much more. Indeed, and to say it simply, with an almost spiritual like approach -- Khalil Gibran meets Ras G -- "Yamms" is something special.