Born to a Trinidadian mother and Jamaican father, rising MC/producer Tre Mission was raised in Toronto and makes music that calls out to London's fertile underground scene. It's that rich mix of heritage and influence that makes his debut album Stigmata such a deeply satisfying listen. From the pinballing chops of "Rally" to the rolling emotion of the title track, Mission stalks ground between grime, hip-hop, UK garage, reggae and dubstep yet never sounds anything less than right at home. While the features are undoubtedly tasty—grime dons Wiley, JME, and Skepta—it's Mission's quick-witted flow and melodic nuance that drives the record. Big Dada are set to release Stigmata on August 11th (get your hands on it here) but you can stream it in full right here, right now. Plus find out how a childhood dream about Bob Marley set him on his musical path, what London represents to him musically, and why grime and hip-hop aren't a million miles apart in Mission's world in the interview below.
What's your first musical memory? My first musical memory is a dream I had about Bob Marley when I was a kid. I remember at the time i was obsessed with Bob and he scared the shit out of me in that dream, so I told my mom about it, and she told me that it was a sign that I was meant to stop singing his songs, and sing my own. She explained that the dream may seem scary, but its purpose and message was positive.
What was your first interaction with grime growing up? I actually didn't really hear grime growing up really until later in my teens. But I remember seeing a Dizzee Rascal video on TV when I was in the 8th grade and thinking, what the fuck am I hearing? Are these sounds even possible? lol
What was it like working with Wiley and JME on the album? It was good because on both of those songs we were there together in person making the music. It wasn't an email back and forth type of thing so that was good as that can really stretch out the progress of a song a lot longer than it needs to be. With the JME track especially, we knew what people wanted from us based on the reactions to the freestyles we did back in 2011, so we didn't over think it. We gave them just that.
How does grime go down in Toronto? It doesn't really. Unless you come to one of my shows.
You draw on both grime and hip-hop on Stigmata, how do the two musics relate in your eyes? Well, I think the most obvious would be that they’re both MC-driven genres. I believe I'm an MC before anything. A rapper. A lyricist. Whatever you may call it. I don't necessarily put that first always, but it’s the core of who I am as an artist.
I really like hearing Skepta in a hip-hop context on "In the Hallway." Did you set out to bring the two worlds together? I actually didn't even think about it. To be honest, the beat may be a bit hip-hop, but if you listen to the flows, it’s grime from top to bottom. Those flows are 100 percent grime. I don't think "In The Hallway" is any less grime than [Meridian Dan's] "German Whip." Something about the track just made me feel like it would be perfect for Skepta. We had been trying to find the right track for a while and after I laid my parts down and brought it home, I instantly pictured Skepta on it, so I sent it over and he loved it. I think that's what made it special—the fact that he actually likes the song. [With] a lot of features you don't get that chemistry, especially when you're working an ocean away from each other.
Then there's your Dizzee tribute, and a garage turn on "On Road." What is about London music that speaks to you? I just like the fact that there's no boundaries. A lot of people complain that the UK music industry is too pop driven but I think that has a lot to do with the fact that UK underground music has been helping to change the sound of pop music for years and years, and will continue to do so. I think that's something to embrace. There will always be corny stuff and there will always be over-produced and manufactured artists, but without the dark what would make the light special?
What's the story behind Stigmata's title? It's basically the end result of a long train of thought and conversation I was having with some people about music. I put my blood, sweat and tears into this in order to do something to change the world. That's my stigmata.
How did you celebrate finishing it? I flew to London for a month lol.