By Safiya Hopfe
Fast-rising West Coast rappers Darren “Young D” Metz and Quinton “Yung Trybez” Nyce remember when their relatives in Kitimat would call them “snotty nosed kids from the rez” with endearment– carefree kids who wouldn’t let a few boogers get in their way. Now, they go by “Snotty Nose Rez Kids” to honour being a little rough around the edges, and that this is what makes them beautiful.
The journey of the last couple of years has been wild, and in many ways unexpected– but they say it’s a dream come true.
Since their 2017 debut, they’ve been nominated for the Polaris, a Juno, and best hip-hop album at the Indigenous Music Awards. But Nyce says, they’re not in it for that. “At the end of the day, it’s just to have a positive impact on people.”
The project started as a vision when the two were in school preparing to work nine-to-five jobs. Since then, each album has had what Metz calls a “snowball effect.” “With each project” says Metz, “trying to get up there, trying to define ourselves and our style, we healed in ways that we thought we couldn’t heal. And not just that, but helping others heal.”
In late 2017, The Average Savage marked Nyce and Metz’s emergence from their shells. This sparked a healing journey as they explored their roots and their power through verse. New record Traplines, signifies that they now have their confidence. It was this confidence in their collective voice that brought it into being. Last summer, the two wanted to make a mixtape, Rez Bangers & Koolapops, but realized a project of that scale wouldn’t be true to them. They wanted to make a full-length record– and they wanted it to have a message.
And the time really couldn’t be riper. After all, as Nyce points out, our planet is dying, slowly but surely. Describing the album, he says, “It’s a reminder to people that the land we come from comes with responsibility. Our ancestors upheld those responsibilities and passed those responsibilities down to us.”
He adds, “People need inspiration from an outside source, not necessarily holding them up on the frontlines. We give them a different energy. We make anthems for that sort of thing.”
Although forward-thinking action is definitely a focus of theirs, Snotty Nose Rez Kids are far from forgetting where they came from. Having been raised in a culture and an environment where oral storytelling is pivotal, their work is in many ways shaped by what their grandparents, parents, aunties and uncles shared with them in hours spent at the dinner table. “A lot of the stuff on Trapline, is a lot of just that,” says Nyce.. “My mum’s on the opening skit, she’s telling us exactly what our traplines are and what they mean, letting us know that we don’t own these traplines we don’t own this land, but we have a responsibility to preserve it, protect it, and pass it onto the next generation for us to survive. So we give and we take, when it comes to storytelling.”
They aim to speak not only for themselves but for all of those who came before them. Nyce describes this as a relationship of responsibility.
“Without us, there’s a missing link. The generation before us can’t have that information passed on to the generation after us without our link.”
Tuesday, May 21 @ Commonwealth (Calgary)
Wednesday, May 22 @ 99ten (Edmonton)
Thursday, May 30 @ Fortune Sound Club (Vancouver)
Friday, June 7 @ Capital Ballroom (Victoria)
99ten, Capital Ballroom, Commonwealth Bar, Fortune Sound Club, Snotty Nose Rez Kids