By Chris Dzaka
VANCOUVER – Snotty Nose Rez Kids are sick of hearing the grim narrative in the media about suicide, drug abuse and substandard housing among First Nations people. The self proclaimed “Rez” kids have honed their skills as hip-hop emcees to create a new narrative that they’re eager to share: First Nations kids are more than statistics in the highway of tears or suicide numbers. Aboriginal youth are survivors and creators.
“Our goal is to be a voice of the voices. There are so many things we’ve been through and have to say but haven’t necessarily been said,” says Darren (Young D) Metz. “We have to lead the next wave and the next generation and keep on fighting.”
A rap duo hailing from Kitimat, BC and part of the Haisla Nation, SNRK is made up of childhood friends, Metz and Quinton “Yung Trybez” Nyce. Fresh off tour dates in Montreal and Toronto, SNRK recount each coming from great families who fostered tight relationships with their community. Nyce smiles as he reminisces, “As far as the Rez goes, we had it great. We had the ocean in the summer and 10-foot snow banks in the winter.”
“The Rez was our playground,” Metz continues. “Every weekend we spent at each other’s house, swimming in the ocean or playing ball. Quinton’s parents treated me like their own and my folks did the same.”
Though problems like deplorable housing, substandard drinking water, and drug and alcohol abuse are a part of the environment many First Nations youth face growing up, SNRK are flipping the script, drawing attention to issues such as these while radiating positivity for the youth of today.
“We’re not just speaking for ourselves, we’re speaking for our youth,” says Nyce. “Whether they’re in a good situation or a shitty situation. This is why we do this, for our indigenous youth.”
The duo may be young but they’ve seen enough to know what is and isn’t worth fighting for. Since their inception, SNRK has released three full-length albums this year alone and have plans to drop another collection of songs in the new year. Their songs are a thoughtful mix of classic and modern hip-hop inspired lyrical content and beats, alongside traditional First Nations singing, seasoned with thought provoking interludes. Each album illuminates issues facing their community while underscoring the light hearted relationship with family, friends and the Rez they love.
SNRK tell a different story about life outside their community. “There was a distance between white people and us. When we were kids one of the star players on our ball team was white. We got invited to his house for a party (for the team). We got there and they wouldn’t let us in and we were on the starting five. And it was the parents who said we weren’t allowed in, like four Indians aren’t allowed in, ya know?” Nyce explains. “That’s against everything us as indigenous artists are about,” Metz adds. “Yeah when people would come to the Rez they would be like, oh you people have paved roads? You know what I mean? Thinking we live in teepees and shit. There are a lot of people like that, but there are also a lot of good people out there.”
The group feels music can provide some insight into their politics on songs like “KKKanada” and “Savages” off their latest record, The Average Savage. Together, Metz and Nyce attempt to stomp out stereotypes with unapologetically truthful and positive music as only they can deliver, via quick witty word play.
“When we write music, we don’t always try to focus on the negative, we try to focus on the positive even if there’s not a whole lot of positive in a situation,” Metz says.
SNRK deliver timely and current lyrics with beats that resemble a nineties tip. But both men have definitely created their own distinct voice. Metz breaks it down like this, “I was into 2pac and Biggie, then in the 2000’s I was into southern rap. Something about that accent got me. Now it’s Wale and Kendrick Lamar. As an artist you grow up liking certain things and you develop your own style from it. Nyce chimes in, “I’ve seen J Cole a bunch of times. I really like his music and Kendrick Lamar too. It’s a great time to be an indigenous artist. A lot of us indigenous people are able to get into arts and don’t have to fall into a nine-to-five. As (Indigenous) people we are naturally artists. Our music is indigenous rising music.”
SNRK have a new collaboration project called Devil’s Club coming out in early 2018.snrk