Breakout Toronto Bands: Tre Mission
Breakout Toronto Bands features local artists that we think you should give a listen to.
Who are they?
Tre Mission is a 21 year old Toronto MC burning up the U.K.'s 'Grime' scene - think fast rhymes over equally fierce electro-dub beats. Although somewhat of an indie sensation across the pond (with multiple Youtube freestyle videos racking up hundreds of thousands of views), he's managed to lay low in the hip-hop identity crisis capital of the world: Toronto.
I caught up with Tre recently, and he told me about how he started rapping at age 6 in Don Mills, after hearing the Beastie Boys' "Intergalactic," then improvising over instrumental bonus tracks. Tre's been making music ever since, posting freestyles and tracks to U.K. hip hop forums like GRM Daily, where he raised enough eyebrows to release his first mix tape (featuring the ridiculous "When I come thru"), at just 19.
Since then he's consistently found the bulk of his success overseas. These days Tre finds he has a second life, where he's both celebrated by music critics and grime pioneers alike, and often targeted by haters for his out-of-place (Canadian, eh) accent. If anything, the controversy only seems to fuel Tre's drive, and the pace of his video and track releases has yet to slow.
They sound like...
Tre articulates laser sharp rhymes over dark and cavernous, yet often frenetic beats, with the obligatory 8-bit Nintendo sound effect to further the space-out vibe of a grime beat. What sets Tre apart is a balanced lyrical approach that has him flipping seamlessly between bravado and introspection. From rhyming about money, girls, and hiding weed from the cops over a driving bass beat in "Maxin Everything," to the insecurity-laden steel drum confessional of "Hilroy," it's this delicate straddling of street-cred and self-indulgence that makes Tre Mission's music intriguing.
It's obvious that Tre stands apart from the crop of local up-and-coming rappers, and it's his view that what's burdening the city's rap scene with unoriginality (aside from a few notable pioneers) is street hip hop's inability to accept creating music for the sake of creating music. Tre notes how many talented Toronto rappers never escape the cycle of street bravado, and all the danger that comes with it, saying "it's too bad some people don't know when to stop and say 'I'm going to do music now.'" Considering the rap/gang affiliation with this summer's Eaton Centre shooting, his theory is especially resonant.
Hear them / see them
You can check out a track from Tre's debut album, Malmaison, above. Tre has only had a handful of live performances in the city since his appearance at this year's NXNE hip hop showcase, but he's working on a live band set-up to bring the richest stage adaptation of his tracks possible.