by Scott Wilson
140 beats per minute is the cadence of a professional cyclist in a sprint, the firing rate of an anti-aircraft cannon, and the heart rate of a student about to read a speech to the entire class. It’s also the tempo that MC Tre Mission uses to craft his rhymes: bam bam bam they come at you like hits from a heavy weight boxer.
Raised in Toronto by parents from the West Indies, Tre Mission’s style borrows a calm voice from reggae, bold lyrics from American hip-hop, and –most notably- the fast and relentless lyrical flow of a world-class grime-star. After having been discovered by the grime scene a few years ago as a North American who can hold his own with the European veterans, Tre Mission’s debut album Malmaison promises to affirm his status as the man to watch.
Tre Mission’s label, Big Dada, released two EPs: “Brunch” and “High Fashion”. Both songs follow Dr. Dre’s tenements for solid hip hop: “You either talk about the place to be, who you are, what you got, or ‘bout a sucka MC.” “Brunch” fits more in the style of a battle. The non-stop cascade of damaging lyrics is hard to follow point to point, but the general feeling of who’s dope and who’s not gets conveyed just as well. It’s the kind of song you can listen to over and often, unpacking more each time.
“High Fashion” tells more of a story. Tre Mission’s the man, he goes to the club and does what he wants, then he steals your girl and you’re cool with it…or else. The rhymes come slower and more deliberately in “High Fashion”, he wants you to hang on to every word and digest.
As a couplet, “Brunch” and “High Fashion” show Tre Mission’s versatility: he can do melodies and he can free verse, he can mix up his tone or he can sling staccato pellets through your ears. Production-wise, both EPs suffer a little. The background music feels more or less like a metronome. It’s very computerized and not especially groundbreaking for either song. Tre Mission relies on his MCing skills predominantly and gives the impression that if there’s a technical error he can a cappella his way through a show and a fan wouldn’t miss much.
The full Malmaison album can be found on World Wide Web at tremission.com.