Sound Advice: Malmaison by Tre Mission
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Sound Advice: Malmaison by Tre Mission

Tre Mission tackles new sounds and new subject matter on his new free album. Just don't call it a mixtape.

Malmaison Cover

If there’s one thing Tre Mission wants you to know about his new album, Malmaison, it’s that it’s not a mixtape. Anyone who follows the MC/producer on Twitter or who saw him play his NXNE show on Saturday night will know this. He’s been pretty adamant about it. Yes, the album is being released for free. No, that doesn’t make it a mixtape.

While this may sound like an artist being needlessly picky, Tre does have a point. Malmaison doesn’t feel like a mixtape. It’s not cheap or disposable. It comes with a full, PDF digital booklet and high quality cover art. The sound is equally polished.

“Introdeuce,” with its long introduction and layered, synth-and-sample-heavy production is a perfect example of the sort of maturity present on Malmaison. Female vocal samples are looped and chopped until they’re just individual notes, then combined with a pulsing bass drum-and-hi-hat beat and marimba-like synths. The song is also far more lyrically mature than much of Tre’s early work, with introspection and autobiography replacing high-octane boasts and street talk.

“Flashlight Woah” shows similar depth. The chord progression is somewhere between ominous and mournful, occasionally punctuated with drum-and-bass snares. All this happens while Tre is paying tribute to his friends who are either dead or in jail. (You can listen to “Flashlight Woah” by clicking on the sample above.)

That said, there’s also a fair bit of aggressive material. Tre’s primary musical influence is grime, a British subgenre that combines hip-hop with drum and bass, dancehall, 2-step, and dubstep and is heavy on rapid-fire delivery, live battles, and almost chiptune-y bleeps. “Kickflip” is probably the most traditionally grime track on the album, with Tre delivering a blazing barrage of confrontational, double-time rhymes over dense, tense, jarring, digital beats.

Tre has come a long way since he first showed up on the local scene in 2010. While he’s always been a gifted wordsmith and beatmaker, Malmaison shows a new diversity. It showcases a fuller range of sounds and ideas, and the less aggressive, more introspective material like “Introdeuce” only serves to make badass tracks like “Kickflip” seem that much more menacing.