A Conversation with Tre Mission
today we have something different on Finesse Foreva – after I wrote the review on Tre Mission’s latest single Orphan Black, we shot him a request for an interview and luckily he was interested. So today we have our first interview, a casual conversation with Tre Mission. We delve straight into his thoughts on drill, grime, his latest album and his plans for the future. Let’s get straight into it.
Samee: Yes Tre – Tre in the flesh what you saying bro?
Tre: Yes bro I’m good, you good?
Samee: Yeah man it’s a chill Saturday man.
Durag on, Mortal Kombat on I can’t complain.
Tre: I’m jealous, I’m jealous – I’ve been running around all day out here.
Samee: Jeez. then I want to thank you for taking the time out first for sure man and I’m glad you rated the write up on Orphan Black. to kick things off, Obviously Finesse Foreva’s a drill platform and naturally my first question is about your Mad About Bars freestyle. it was a shock to see you and Merky who are both grime MCs jump on a drill platform. How did that come about?
Tre: Yes yes, so one day I was just in Lewisham, chilling. And I was just up in a block upstairs on a landing. And he was coming to pick up someone, and he got out of the car and he didn’t know that I was there. Cause Kenny from Lewie too right?
So he sees me and he’s like “Yo - what you doing out here?”
I just say “Fam this is where I live, I live like right over there.” And so from there he just kind of had more ratings from me and that’s always happened to me. That’s been happening to me since I’ve been living in London, even with grime people who would see me in certain places and just say ‘oh shit like you’re really out here’.
Samee: Yeah I can imagine for sure.
Tre: And for me I’ve been here for so long now even when I’m not doing music stuff… I run into people. So from there I linked Kenny. And in the grime scene I was one of the biggest supporters of drill from the beginning. I’ve been paying attention because I’ve always liked all types of UK music, it’s not always just been about grime to me – grime was just like my gateway you know?
Samee: yeah, I’ve always got the idea that you’ve really been in the UK really taking to it and making yourself apart of the scene.
Tre: Even with drill I’ve been a fan since it’s It’s Cracking and It’s Frying.
Samee: They’re hard though they’re hard, those two are GOATs for sure.
Tre: Oh for sure, for sure. So It’s Cracking was Stickz and MDarrg and It’s Frying I think was Scribz and Dimzy as a response. This was like 2015/2016 times.
Samee: Okay right so this was that far back – obviously those guys were really going back and forth back then.
Tre: This was the beginning of the public really seeing them go at it too. I’ve been following from back then. So fast forward to come to end of 2016, 2017 times, which was when we did the Mad About Bars freestyle. It was just one of those ones where I hollered Kenny and said I’m trying to come on some time. And he had mentioned it to me before like ‘we’ve got to get you on’ and we were in talks about his last album where I was trying to get some production on there or whatever. Eventually he was just like yeah: you and Merky should do one because we were pushing the Tizzy Gang album at the time, we were running around do a lot of tag team time.
Samee: I definitely want to get into Tizzy at some point for sure.
Tre: For sure for sure. So me and Kenny had already worked before, he’d put together a song with me and Reeko Squeeze.
Samee: oh swear so whatever happened with that though? did that just not get put on Kenny’s album?
Tre: We put it out, did a whole video and everything. It’s called Hit A Lick – I shot my parts in Canada and he shot his in London.
Samee: Okay I remember this you know, you and Reeko did a tune time ago. But back to the freestyle you thinking about getting a part 2 coming?
Tre: Yo I would love to but that’s up to Kenny really.
Samee: Definitely got to happen bro, definitely. But anyway I can tell you’re a big fan of drill, so is there anyone else in the scene you’d want to collaborate with? Because I personally think your ting would work with a lot drill rappers.
Tre: I already have songs in the vault I guess. I got something with BT and Rendo – I did that back in like 2016 around the same time I wrote Hockey. I’m a big fan of Headie One. Here’s the funny thing bro – People think drill’s not lyrical. but I think Headie One’s the most lyrical in the country right now, it’s not even close.
Samee: That’s a very big claim but I definitely see where you’re coming from. You even shout out Headie on the album I think – what’s that bar where you say like “banging headie loud”.
Tre: Even where I say “Wake up, Kenny now” right before that.
Samee: Oh right right I didn’t even clock that you know. But it sounds like you’ve been working on the album a while then if Hockey’s going back to 2016. I got the feeling that in the midst of all the Tizzy Gang that you were showing up and disappearing – I felt like you were working on something hard. What was the process of making the album like?
Tre: Well there was a time where I just wasn’t feeling it. I was always going to make music but I just wasn’t inspired to put myself out there.
Samee: Yeah yeah it gets like that bro.
Tre: I wasn’t very encouraged with the way things were going in my life, with my career, where the game was going. Cause for me I feel like I’m from the last of the real... my generation I’m 28 now. We didn’t have social media and then we did, and it hit us at a young age. I still have old school principles you know? I see certain niggas reasoning on Instagram live – and talking about beef – like do you niggas want to go to jail? To see a guy on Instagram live talking about this and that, it’s wild to me. Stuff like getting on Instagram live and talking even about my own music is something I had to grow out of my own shell to do. So I’ve had to figure it out and by the time I did I was pretty much done.
Samee: I hear you bro so it was more about like trying to figure out how the game has changed and how you fit in it as an artist.
Tre: I even got into a situation with my last album…
Samee: Stigmata yeah?
Tre: yeah. Lucky for me I thought what I needed to make was still out the box compared to a lot of grime artists generally.
Samee: it’s so clear that on the run up to this album and going back to stigmata you really put together your own style.
Tre: Yeah bro and honestly all I did was make music that when I get in the car – I would want to listen to, and my niggas would want to listen to, and the gyaldem that I know. If all those people are happy at the end of the day then I feel like I’ve done my job. Cause real niggas are never gonna die fam, we’re only going to dictate what everyone else thinks is cool, you know? So you just have to trust in what you know and feel.
Samee: That brings me on to some questions I did have about the album still. I can hear a lot of melodic stuff. There’s a lot of bars still but I hear a bit of Future in this, a bit of Thug.
Tre: Well… Even if you go back and listen to Stigmata, the very first song was an instrumental and it goes into me singing. People that have been following really closely, as a Tre Mission fan, they’re not surprised too much about the direction and the vibes on this album. And plus I’m from Toronto so you know how that goes you know?
Samee: Oh course. Toronto is ahead of the curve with melodies. I remember your tracks like On A Wave. I feel like you’ve been working on that sound and now you’ve fine tuned it into a full project.
Tre: Exactly exactly, On A Wave is a great example and I’m glad you said that. That was one too where, I had this problem when I was making Stigmata where – label guys and management around me didn’t understand certain waves that I was putting forward. And at the end of the day you can’t expect them to understand. They’re not outside like you.
Samee: Looking back that tune banged but it was really forward thinking… especially for grime or any UK music. No one was really doing much melody it was still mainly beats and bars.
Tre: Or even like a trap beat with the guitars and now every trap beat has guitars bro.
Samee: 100% you know - mixing and trap and guitars was super out there back then. It was way left. But moving on from that, talk to me about the title cause you lost me with that one when you announced it. What does Orphan Black mean?
Tre: Right right – so there’s a show called Orphan Black right? It’s a show about a British girl. She’s at a train station in Toronto and she sees a girl who looks exactly like her – doppelgänger levels. That girl, the second that she sees her, ends up jumping in front of the train. She’s just watching but she sees that she’s dropped her purse on the platform. She picks up her purse and ends up stealing her identity. This girl was already on a con-artist type thing right? So that girl has to try and blend in and do a Canadian accent. Down the line she finds out that the reason she met a girl who looks exactly like her is that she’s actually a clone, seen? And there’s dozens of them around the world, and they’ve been cloned for some kind of big experiment that trillionaire’s are doing or whatever.
Tre: So yo - the girl that plays the main character in the show? She plays all the clones. I read about it too. It was really hard to shoot, but at the end of the day it’s a Canadian actress who’s had to play a British girl pretending to be a Canadian.
Samee: Nah It reminds of some Tom Hardy shit, like that Kray Twins film?
Tre: I just rated the whole concept. The concept, the show, the girl and what she took on… she won bare awards for the show, that was like her first major lead role too. It was a very Toronto centric show too, there’s a lot of Toronto landmarks. There’s streets right round the corner from my barber where it was filmed. Really I just related to that story, the concept and it inspired me to put the album together.
Samee: It sounds like that concept really spoke to you – it definitely paints a picture.
Tre: And when you bring it back to being ahead of the curve there’s a lot of times where people didn’t listen or they pretended they didn’t listen and just ran with it. And I feel like I’ve given people a lot seeds you know. And that’s why I start the whole album off – “I see the clones in new clothes”.
Samee: You know you’re like weaving in and out of my questions right? But one thing I’ve got now is what is it like balancing an international career?
Tre: Yeah… I just had an interview the other day and the guy said he was with two other artists from Toronto and they were telling him one thing: Tre Mission did the impossible. No one, we’ve never seen anyone leave Toronto, go to another country and build a fanbase. Without a label, without a cosign. This is a place where it’s like London back in the day. There were a lot of rappers that used to rap in an American accent. But now fam? Some of my young boys they don’t even know about those days. They woke up and Johnny Gunz was popping.
Samee: I’m 22 fam I hear you. You hear stories but I couldn’t name one rapper that did that. I’ve never not known the UK to not have it’s own sound. Like you said I woke up and Giggs, Sneakbo and Johnny Gunz were a thing.
Tre: For Toronto it was the same thing. Toronto has a very distinct accent you know? So growing up I’ve been doing music from long time even before I came to the UK, people would always say “Yo this is good – but I can tell you’re from Toronto”. And usually subconsciously that just means ‘I can hear your accent’. And that’s like some deeper self hatred ting right?
Samee: It must be for sure.
Tre: People could only rate something that sounded Americanized. And that mentality even went deeper where people over here only rated you if you went somewhere else and made someone rate you - i.e America. That was the only thing that we only knew of, to go to America and get your ratings over there. What I did was a very new thing. We didn’t even travel as much as I felt we needed to in Toronto.
Samee: It kind of goes back to what you were saying about – you didn’t use this word so much but self-respect. Knowing what you rate and that people around you rate it.
Tre: It became a thing where when I first came to the UK, I was putting my music out and there was more people reacting to it than ever. There was more people following, listening and saying “I fuck with this” than ever. The smartest thing for me to do was follow it. I had connections to people like Wiley and BBK and even lesser known names behind the scenes that I was in contact with. So I got on a plane and I went there you know? I planned a trip for two weeks and I ended up staying for five months. I ended up doing Lord of The Mics and 2012 was crazy for me – from doing that back and forth I ended up making a second life over there. Even if I quit music I think I would’ve kept coming back.
Samee: London must’ve treated you well my guy.
Tre: Of course. I’m still over there, I got a son from there now.
Samee: So you mentioned Lord of The Mics – obviously you’ve been on there, you clashed Jendor. You seen Lord of The Mics 8, any thoughts?
Tre: I did, I did, I did. Listen man… I didn’t really like any of them.
samee: swear? no way, why is that?
Tre: Well I liked the two white yutes, they were sick. It reminded me of my one where it was just like a rally back and forth. Funky Dee’s one wasn’t even fair. That other guy must’ve not known the next Lewisham energy that he was coming with. He made him flinch it wasn’t even fair. And I like Micofcourse, I really do but to be honest the grime scene right now… no one’s really trying. I do not feel like man are trying hard enough. And a big part of it is like bro, the streets don’t love grime anymore. And the thing with me is like where I am in London I’m still connected to the streets. One of my young boys round me is turning 19 this week. I gauge stuff off of his friends you know? Even when they’re still in college I ask them like – If I go to your college right now what are man listening to? What will they tell me to listen to?
Samee: 100% man. Me personally, I love grime but there’s a huge nostalgia thing in there for me.
Tre: It’s just been gentrified now. People have been encouraged to not make it about real life anymore. Drill right now is about real life. It’s pushing the bar lyrically. And grime tries to act like they’re not, they try to act like it’s easy, but all of that is hating. All of that is some gatekeeping shit. They act like it’s “ching this, ching that” all that. But fam either that or you niggas don’t know what bars are, point blank period. Because the real barring is happening in the drill scene and anyone that says different either isn’t listening, doesn’t know bars or they’re straight hating.
Samee: I mean just to be honest people love to hate on drill for being basic or being unoriginal but at the end of the day… I love grime but those criticisms could be pointed straight in the mirror man.
Tre: I’m so happy you said it instead.
Samee: So I remember I saw you tweeted once – do people even really care about sets? I wanted to know your thoughts on this because I like listening to sets in the gym and that but it’s a nostalgia thing as far as I can see.
Tre: It used to be you know? Tape packs, driving up to London to try and catch a radio signal… but bro back in 2017 times when we were doing that Tizzy Gang album, me and Merky were doing the tag team thing… I knew it was going to be my last time doing these rounds.
Samee: Rah even from then?
Tre: Yeah from then, even yesterday I tweeted – Me and Merky would do these one line flows spelling our names out. M-I-SS-I-O, M-I-SS-I-O to the N-O. We were literally trolling. And they would wheel us! That was literally confirmation that this shit was getting stale. One thing I do know is there was no one that was actually shanking sets like me and Merky, consistently were in that likkle three month period. But I’ll tell you what – no one cared. And they put it out and people had stuff to say on like the grime reddit but even that told me all that I needed to know about the state that the scene was in. And this is what everyone needs to know about where we’re at right now…
Samee: Yeah go on bro.
Tre: It’s not our fault. It is individually but you don’t have to be offended by that. The state of the scene is more in the hands of the listener and at the end of the day they don’t really want that anymore.
Samee: It’s true man. People gravitate to and from things I guess.
Tre: exactly. and Sets they open up stuff – but overall that time is done. There’s not really a need for sets as much anymore. You can just put the music out now.
Samee: Yeah man it’s Youtube it’s 2019 innit that’s just where it is now. But I just want to move onto Tizzy Gang, like in that time where you were heavy on sets with Merky you guys eventually put out the Tizzy Gang album – that project was hard man it was one of the truest grime projects I’d heard in time. Is there going to be another Tizzy Gang project any time soon?
Tre: Honestly – no. I don’t think so. I think what people mixed up with that too is that is never supposed to be a crew. It was a collective we were thinking of maybe turning into a label, but at the time we just wanted to do a compilation. There were people on there that we wanted to showcase, like Vic Santoro and Jason Packs that we wanted the world to hear and see them. It was me and Merky doing whatever we could to make that happen.
Samee: I hear you. I’m a rap fan so we all know crews and groups – there’s a time limit. Even that one off project was an interesting project. Songs like Junk Food and Breakfast were crazy off that and even still I don’t want it to fly under the radar. But moving towards the end now I got like a little meme question. So there’s a lot of lists going round – Top 50 UK, Top 50 US, Joe Budden’s been trending for making number 3 in some places, but I’m just wondering what you think of those rankings and who you’d personally put in you’re top 5.
Tre: The thing is though, I don’t blame people for putting Joe Budden in their top 5. I’ve got two people who are very close to me – one’s a woman, one’s a breddah. They are both diehard Joe Budden fans, seen? Like my boy’s been brought on stage at two different Joe Budden concerts to rap along. I know the deeper levels of Joe Budden. And I sympathise with that sort of artist too, because I’m not making what Not3s is making, or D-Block Europe. I know I’m kind of more niche. When you’re not doing arenas or whatever people will laugh, but you see that house Joe Budden’s in now? He had that house before Everyday Struggle. But my top 5? I couldn’t make it definitely but I’ll tell you this, Lauryn is definitely in my top 5.
Samee: Lauryn Hill? Damn, wasn’t expecting that but I can’t knock it, can’t knock it.
Tre: Beanie Sigel... You got to do some research and take him in trust me. And I know the levels in the UK, so I have to put Ghetts in there. It’s only 4 right now but my last one is Vybez Kartel.
Samee: Ok right right. That’s a very international list which kind of fits you know? But my final question is one for the producers. You’re one of grime’s biggest producers and I was just wondering if you had any advice? Obviously it’s something that’s easy to start up now, you’re just a download away from getting into it but for and up and comer who really wants to get to a level what do you say?
Tre: First thing and some people are going to hate me for this but don’t make type beats. Don’t. Just don’t. I know some guys have got a hit off a type beat. Like Panda, that was a type beat. I think Old Town Road was one. But listen bro that’s a one in a million fluke seen? And how many of those man actually went on to do something afterwards? So I think the best way to make it as a producer is for your own success… and even your own happiness, because the volume of beats you would have to churn out as a type beat producer is just crazy. You know how some people make money selling beats online, it’s a whole new thing they’re trying to push for producers now. But the best thing for your own happiness and your own life and also for your own artistic value in your own music. Find people that you believe in as much as you believe in yourself. People that you actually want to push and that you want to work with. It doesn’t have to be one person. It can be 5 people while you’re still selling your one-two beats on the side. But yo, you’ve got to build. You’ve got to try to do something organic. You think back in the day man were able to say I’m making Large Professor type beats?
Samee: DJ Premier was absolutely not selling Q-Tip type beats or whatever.
Tre: Exactly bro, you hit it on the nail. And just do it every day. Do it every day. I’ve been making beats since I was 11, back when you have nothing else to do. Obviously when you’re older responsibilities come in but you’ve still got to do get it done every single day.
Samee: i think i'm going to wrap it up there but that's definitely good insight some producers can take to heart. but Thanks a lot for the interview bro, really appreciate you taking the time.
Orphan Black, Tre Mission’s latest project is available on all streaming platforms now. this is a great convo and there's a lot of gems so hopefully we'll see from tre again and definitely more interviews in the future.