The Soundstripe on: Dre-T

I know what you’re thinking. “What on earth is a soundstripe and what does it have to do with Sacramento?”

The term “soundstripe” refers to the longitudinal stripe of magnetic material on photographic film. A magnetic sound record is then imprinted along that stripe. Without this soundstripe, we would see beautiful images, but hear nothing but the silent rhythm of the movie reel as it moves ever forward through the story.

Imagine our beautiful rivers. The aged buildings and cobblestone paths of Old Sac. The architecture of our Victorian homes. The multitude of murals that line our walls and alleys. Can you picture them? Now add in all the nooks and crannies of the city, the ones you keep tucked away in your mind. The ones only you know about. The hole-in-the wall places full of familiar faces.

If you were to take those images and lay them out on film for someone outside of Sacramento, would they be intrigued? Would the beauty translate? Or after a moment, would Sacramento begin to blend and turn into every other mid-sized metropolis, the images fading together, and then fading into the ether.

Without the soundstripe, it would feel hollow.

And Sacramento without our musicians? Without our artists creating constant beauty to put into the city?

We would feel hollow.

This feature is intended to introduce you to someone who is integral to the constant evolution of our city. The people who turn Sacramento from a bland cityscape to a living, breathing hub of creation.

Basically? I’m here to give roses to people before they’re gone.

The Soundstripe: Dre-T


It’s disconcerting to meet someone who is nearly a decade younger than you, but somehow has a 3,000-year-old soul. That is how I felt nearly five years ago when I met Andreas Tillman Jr., aka Dre-T. Spend three minutes with Dre and you’ll realize, without question, that he’s been here before. Dre has traveled through time and space, and reached different planes, only to choose to come back and create some of the purest hip-hop I have heard come from Sacramento.

I was at Sol Collective for an open mic. This tall, quiet man walked up to the microphone, wisdom emanating from his aura, and proceeded to recite a poem that shook me. And I am not always the biggest spoken word fan. His voice, his words, his delivery and message melded together perfectly and created something that shot barbs directly into my soul. From that moment forward, all I wanted was his voice on a loop, fed directly into my spirit.

Turns out the poet also made hip-hop. Not long after that day he dropped an album called Sacramentality. The following statement is not one I make lightly:

Sacramentality is probably in my top 25 albums of all time.

No, not favorite album out of Sacramento. Not top 25 albums to come out recently.

Of all time.

The themes that the album touch on are deeply raw and come straight from the core of Dre’s psyche. Over the course of 11 tracks, Dre manages to tell you his story, as well as the stories of millions of other Black men in the US. A story of being stereotyped, dismissed, judged and pigeonholed into a box filled with the passive-aggressive racism that permeates this country.

While each song stands on its own, strong with the conviction of an artist who has known his purpose since the mic hit his fingertips, there are definitely stand-outs. I have witnessed so many of his performances over the years,and all it takes is the first cymbal splash and beat drop from “No Religion” to guarantee an entire crowd will go legitimately insane. Doesn’t matter if it is ten people or a thousand, the group will explode with uninhibited energy, an entire room of people screaming the first bar of the music as though their lives depended on it:

“Steady on my mission, I go in with more precision, if the hidden facts of life were known, there would be no religion.”

Just like that. That’s all it takes. The bass booms, and so do the hearts of all those listening. In that moment, an entire crowd becomes connected to one artist, and that one artist in turn becomes connected to each of them. An even exchange of energy is created, and the give-and-take between artist and fan creates a bond unbreakable by anything, other than another song.

It’s rare.

In the four years since that album has dropped, Dre has been nearly radio silent. A few small snippets of music have cropped up on Soundcloud, and a few beats that he produced have made their way onto other artists’ albums. Trust me, I know. I have watched his music page like a hawk for 1,497 days and counting.

Which brings me to now.

Dre-T is releasing a new album. He has an EP coming in October, with more on the way before the year is over. I know because I have been bugging him for at least a solid year about new music. I know because, when I ran into him after he performed at Hiero Day, he promised me it was real. I know because he sent a sneak peek to my email, and for a while I was too scared to listen.

It wasn’t fair to the other artists I listen to. Dre’s music makes me forget that others exist sometimes.

Bravery kicked in and I pressed play eventually. It’s everything I hoped for, plus more.

Until the new albums drops, I plan on listening to Sacramentality incessantly. You should too.

Feel free to thank me later.

Click here to listen now, and make sure you click the “follow” button on Dre’s profile, so you know exactly when the new album drops.

Also make sure to keep up on all the amazing people who make Sacramento the beautiful space it is! Click “follow” on Voices: River City so you can be sure to follow The Soundstripe, myself, and the amazing team of writers I am privileged to work alongside as this publication builds.

We function completely independently, with no money coming from artists for features. We form our own opinions, and speak our own truths. Weird in journalism, I know. But what can I say? We’re weirdos who want to be able watch our city shine a little bit brighter, and listen to the beautiful soundstripes created from it.

Come shine with us.

Until next time.

Olivia Monahan
aka Liv Styler


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Olivia Monahan
I'm Olivia Monahan -- my resume is cool but here is what matters: I was raised in a home that taught me that music is what feeds the soul. My mission is to introduce you to the artists in Sacramento who feed the soul of our city.