The first full album from Toronto’s Tre Mission, “Stigmata” achieves something remarkable. He takes a genre which we think we know and which, in all honesty, he should have no right interfering with. Then he re-shapes it into something entirely new. Coming over as the missing link between Wiley and Outkast, Mission elaborates the connections (via his own roots in the Caribbean) between UK grime and North American rap and makes the whole thing sound as natural, as soulful, as hard and heavy as you like.
From the woozy atmospherics of the title track onward, you know you’re in for something special. Tre hits the beat with his precise, complex flow, managing to express the kind of fragility which distinguishes the very best grime MCs. Wiley-Tre’s earliest supporter and champion in the UK-features on “Real Grind,” while Canadian hip hop legend Saukrates joins him on “Get Doe,” the pair serving to signal the range of his work. Mission trades verses with JME on “Rally,” something like a sequel to “If You Don’t Know.” “On Road” combines an old skool twostep feel with uneasy, bleary tension for one of the stand-outs of the record. “In The Hallway” is epic, widescreen bounce with the added bonus of a verse from Skepta. “Jack Pot” is sparse, harsh, bass-heavy grime, Tre’s flow matched by Merky Ace. Another stand-out is “Boy In The Corner,” a story rhyme that also acts as a tribute to Dizzee Rascal and a genre classic. When you allow for the fact that Tre also produced most of “Stigmata,” you know you’re dealing with a serious proposition.
Last year Tre Mission released his full length mixtape, “Malmaison,” garnering support of heavyweights on both sides of the Atlantic as well as much online and press acclaim. Now it’s time to take it up another level. The stigmata are, of course, the marks on the body of Christ. Tre Mission makes his marks on his own body, on the body of grime, the body of rap, the body of popular music. And they’re not coming out.