There aren’t a lot of artists lately that have been catching my attention to the point where I listen to them every day and tell everyone that they need to listen to what they have to offer, but when it comes to Tre Mission, it’s just easy to guide people to his music, because he’s just that good. I only came to know about him in February 2014 as he was a co-headliner with Isaiah Rashad, and if you don’t know how Toronto shows go, people stand up, are screwfaced, and are phone watchers until the local act is done before the person they actually came to see was set to perform. Well, there are rare occurrences when the act before the main leaves an impression so strong that you thought it was him that you paid to see live and not the dude to follow. That was the impression that Tre made, and it hasn’t gone away since. When I finally took time out to listen to MALMAISON, I was just further impressed with the arrangement of music that was laid out. It was something different to the ears of Toronto Hip Hop connoisseurs, but it still held the homegrown feeling that the ‘every day man dem’ could appreciate and vibe with. Grime is not a genre that’s familiar to the masses on this side of the pond like it is in London, and I think because he adds that style to his music; it’s more distinctive to listen to and adds a flavor of personality with it. I didn’t know what to anticipate for a follow up, but when he performed some tracks at the show that would eventually be on the album, there was an excitement that grew and I just knew that I couldn’t be the only one to contain what needed to be aired out to the masses.
How the album starts off with the intro is really what I’ve always wanted for people from the city to do in terms representing the turf, the home base, the Dot. When I heard “This is for the 416” being sung out, I couldn’t help but feel some chills as the regionalism started to take shape. With the Green Line (Bloor-Danforth Subway) TTC East end stations like Main & Kennedy making their ways into lyrical form, automatically you know the vibe is going to hit home with those who live East of the DVP – it’s just how it is. The title track Stigmata was one of the first I’d heard (outside of the show) when he dropped the video for it, and for the first time, you got that Euro vibe that the Grime scene provides, but Tre gets right into his story as it’s gritty with a serene undertone providing a smooth portrayal of his narrative. From the street struggle to the perils of coming up as a rapper (especially in this city), he lays it all out there for you to grasp an understanding of just where he comes from.
There’s always the song about the girl (on this album there’s a couple), but this track doesn’t have that corny-mushy feel to it, but rather it’s the ride-or-die motto that has resonated for two decades in Hip Hop. Andreena has that attitude that is synonymous with the ride-or-die chick that takes no mess, which the average hood figure looks for, and there are examples of that in her own work (listen to Naked), so it’s a natural element to have her vocals featured on this album (not once, but twice). Real Grind is dope in all forms because it’s that ‘us against the world’ narrative with a significant bounce, and also the feature of Wiley was also fitting. I don’t listen to British Hip Hop, but I know that they have some good ones out there (shout out to Tamia – she’s the expert on that).
From ‘Wifey’ to ‘Cyattie’ in an instant, Jessica is the example of whom you trust and whom you don’t. The moody tone of the song reminded me of how Kendrick told Keisha’s Song.
“Young king from the Milly with a gun sling
Girls love drugs if I ever knew one thing
If I knew another one, sex could be drugs too
Mix it with greed it can lead up to one thing”
Young, reckless, and free – you make mistakes, but at the same time, you tend to show others what’s good, but the stubbornness gets people caught up with things or people that they should just keep at a distance. This is one of those examples. It’s funny that the name of this song is called Jessica, because I know a lot of Jessica’s, and they all have some significance when it comes to my life personally, but that’s another story for a different day. We have this saying that may not only be exclusive to urban Toronto residents, but when someone “shows you a ting”, they’re trying to keep you aware of a situation or person (‘ting’ is such a versatile word), and the moral of the story here is that there’s always consequences when you don’t adhere to the advice of others (“those who can’t hear must feel). I hope there’s a video for this in the works or something, because it’s a dope narrative that provides solid visual context for its purpose. K-OS has been in, out, and all about in terms of the Canadian music scene, so to have his vocals on this hook (I dope one at that) was unexpected, but great in terms of a unified effort in Toronto talent old & new. I’m a sucker for great storytelling, which is the essence of Hip Hop, so I could appreciate all of the elements from the beat to the story Tre tells. It’s one of the best tracks on the album, for me.
Rally has that EDM feel to it, but again, that’s the Grime influence coming over. The back and forth between Tre & JME was dope to hear, as this has the embodiment of a party track, but you still have their individual frustrations with the struggle collapsed in it. A good balance. If breakdancing was still in (and if the song was a lot longer), this would be such a dope track to go off to.
True story: when he premiered this song at the Isaiah Rashad show, he had to pull up because as he was getting into his verse, the crowd (not just myself) was so hype and in a frenzy that it was completely overwhelming, but the energy he brought out so tough and the lyrics punched you in the chest repetitively. On Road is another term that may or may not be exclusive to Toronto residents, but that’s what we say when we’re out and about doing what we need to do.
Example: “Mandem are on road right now still. Putting in work nyahmean? I’m out here still, family.”
Along those lines, but you get the drift. This is also one of the top songs to listen to, and the fact that the intensity from the live performance is matched with the studio version is also a sigh of relief to me, because you just don’t know these days. The Rob Ford & Busy Signal (step out) references were dope, but those weren’t the only things to admire about this track. It was the perfect set up to In The Hallway because it instilled the drug dealer behaviour that I’ve seen a lot growing up. When he talks about the “trappin ass niggas” it puts me right back on the block – nostalgia is something isn’t it? The 2nd verse is the one that I sit with because he talks about those who had to do what they had to do to make their ends, and got rich from it, and although they might have had set backs, they seemed to bounce back. The “stand right next to the grocery and sell food” line is deep if you know what ‘food’ means. It’s very descriptive and honest, which I’ve appreciated about the album thus far. The features have been solid as well. Skepta added a fire verse that damn near overshadowed Tre. I didn’t see that coming, but it’s one to run back repetitively.
It’s damn near offensive to say this these days when making a description about a Hip Hop song, but Money Make (Her) sounds like a very radio friendly almost pop-crossover track, because of its softer tone to it; the opposite of what ‘Real Grind’ offered up. If you were hand this to a Top 40 radio station, this would be the one that they’d go with, and that’s not to degrade the song itself, because it’s still a good song, but because of what it sounds like and it’s a step away from the atmosphere of the album, it was a change of pace that I didn’t anticipate. Every man has to be a simp sometimes, right? Be in touch with your softer side, young man.
A lot like Rally, you get that high energy/breakdance friendly track that’s perfect for a club setting with Jack Pot and there’s always time for that. There’s not a lot of Hip Hop out there that makes you want to dance anymore. Like real dance, not just a ‘Yeet’ or a ‘Nae Nae’ or a ‘Shmoney’, like actually just let loose and kick it into gear. It’s good to have some bust-a-move type of music sometimes. How about more? I might have to start paying attention to UK rappers and their Grime scene because I’ve heard nothing but dope stuff all over this album, and that’s one thing that I’ve dismissed for a while. Time to wake up, perhaps.
Get Doe is one of the more underrated songs on the album. It has that radio feel (thanks to the Toronto’s legendary Saukrates), but it’s that coming-from-the-bottom-to-the-top storyline that carries the influence. Tre is a dope lyricist, and his flow is infectious that it seems as though any beat he’s given, he just rips it. I haven’t heard anything disappointing up to this point. Getting money is always the objective and by any means, people will do what they have to do to get it, and that requires stepping outside of the box to do something out of the norm, which Tre admits he was ridiculed for. Just goes to show you that when you’re floating high enough, the opinions of those below become quieter. One example – I was just browsing around online when the album came around and I was on a site that said that Boy on the Corner was the worst song on the album. Hey, that’s a subjective opinion, but I didn’t see it that way at all. It’s still a story being told, the hook was catchy with a more modernized bounce to it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Milly is where the Toronto slang came out in full effect: bait, run up, waste, and yeah eh were just a few examples while the Victoria Park (borderline Scarborough/North York) makes its appearance as well (I assume, his block). It wraps up the album well ending where it started off in terms of being for the city (well at least the ones in the East).
To put it into perspective, growing up in Toronto, you had a great representation of what it was like in the city with dope artists that put on well. It started with Maestro and that trickled down to Choclair, Kardinal, Ghetto Concept, to the early mixtape days of Drake, and I know for a fact that I’m leaving off a lot of names, but my brain can only recall so much at the moment. Some how the authenticity of Toronto’s music turned into keeping up with the Kardashians Americans, and our identity was lost. It’s starting to regain its synergy, and the only way that happens is if people stay in their own lanes and make people gravitate to us as opposed to us going to them. Tre Mission is a step outside of the box because Grime is a familiar sound here, and when you do it well, people will talk and appreciate what’s being put forward. I certainly hope that this doesn’t fly past a lot of radars, because what you have hear is a distinct sound that has the chance to propel to a higher level in the rap game, especially the fact that his music transcends not only in Toronto, but has a London influence. Geography is key to expansion, so he’s on the right path. Stigmata is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year, so give it the respect it deserves and support the kid with a mission. But for now, this is my opinion, this is my review
That’s My Word & It STiXX
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