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Stigmata (Big Dada)
Tre Mission’s 2013 mixtape Malmaison proved a Toronto kid could be an absolute natural in the UK grime world. He’s followed up with a fleshed-out, mostly self-produced debut album of all-new material that blends the genre with a distinctly 416 sound and a touch of southern hip-hop.
Both the pulsating electronic production and Tre’s throaty staccato flow are unrelenting. Yet the result isn’t abrasive, but balanced by subtle instrumentals and light-touch hooks care of fellow Canucks like k-os and up-and-coming R&B singer Andreena.
Stigmata is cohesive but dabbles in styles: Rally is a short, sweet dip into dubstep. Jack Pot’s stuttery experimentalism recalls Shabazz Palaces. On Road intros with light piano and pattering drum ‘n’ bass percussion before becoming the album’s most infectious earworm. The only play for radio friendliness, Money Make (Her), and the bigger-name collabs – Get Doe with Saukrates – are still brooding and uneasy, and Tre’s storytelling is on point, whether he’s telling his own tale or someone else’s.
The freshest features, which come from a handful of much older, established English grime stars (JME, Wiley, Skepta, Merky Ace), see Tre paying homage to the London scene that initially embraced him.
One of the best Canadian rap albums of 2014.
Top track: On Road