By Tim Collins
Snotty Nose Rez Kids are a force to be reckoned with.
The duo of Darren “Young D” Metz and Quinton “Yung Trybez” Nyce, originally from Kitamaat Village, produce some of the most exciting hip-hop music of their generation. They have become internationally recognized for their work, and although the awards keep coming, the group remains true to their core values and the lessons they learned growing up on the reservation.
“The greatest award we could get is that the next generation hears our music and gets inspired to be the best versions of themselves,” Metz said.
“When we first started performing, we wanted a name that would tell people who we are without having to explain it. The symbolism is that it is rough out there but that there’s always love there too.”
Winners of the 2023 Prism Prize, and shortlisted for the Junos, the duo has also been shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize, nominated for Best Hip Hop Album at the Indigenous Music Awards and for Indigenous Artist of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards.
In short, the hip-hop duo has had an amazing rise to success.
The First Nations Haisla rappers are now based in Vancouver, but it’s the “rez” that molded these remarkable artists into who they are today.
“No matter where we are, we always carry the rez with us,” Nyce said. “There’s a real sense of community (on the reservation) and everyone takes care of one another. We’re one big family.”
And although rap and hip-hop have often been viewed as the music of the oppressed, characterized by a sort of rough anger, Nyce has a different perspective.
“It’s not all about street life, and it’s not all about anger. There’s love and compassion there. It’s about life experience,” Nyce said. “If you live on the street, you express that, but if you’re and artist and you have love in your heart, you express that as well.”
The duo has produced six albums to date and is poised to release their seventh this spring.
“Our next album has sort of an Indigenous futurism theme with hints of an apocalypse and how living in the old ways can be the answer,” Nyce said.
Metz said when they put out an album, “it’s like us checking in on the world.”
That was certainly the case when the group released their “Life After” album in 2021.
“That album came out after the pandemic and it reflected the tragedy and emotional pain that we all experienced during that time, but it also reflected the love and the hope that would allow us to go on.”
Snotty Nose Rez Kids is now in their seventh year performing professionally, and although they are both now married with Metz expecting his first child, the duo still pursues a gruelling performance schedule.
“We do about 80 to 120 shows a year and we’ve toured all over North America, and we’ve toured the Netherlands, the U.K., Mexico, and Australia. Our next album actually has some big-name Australian artists as part of it, so we’re definitely branching out,” said Nyce.
Metz added their music has changed as they gather more growth and maturity.
“I’d never travelled outside B.C. before and now we’ve been all over. But no matter where we go, we try to find the best of the situations and we grow and mature. It’s like our education.”
That education began, however, back on the “rez.”
“We definitely grew up at a young age,” said Metz. “And what inspired us most was family. I remember watching my mom taking the mike at a feast and how she was always confident and composed. Those moments shaped us as artists.”
And being an Indigenous artist can be a challenge, to be sure.
“I think we probably had to work three times as hard to get as far as we have compared with the average white dude, but that struggle made us who we are,” said Nyce. “The truth is that now is a good time to be an Indigenous artist, in part because of the work that we’ve all put in before. Rez dogs roll in packs, and so do we.”
Their background continues to inform their approach to music and may well be the secret to their success.
“I feel that what we’ve always wanted to do is make music that makes us feel good. If it makes us feel good, then someone out there hearing it will feel good as well,” said Metz. “It’s like a modern-day medicine ceremony … all good vibes. If it’s healing for us, then we know it will help others too.”
More information and tickets are available at snottynoserezkids.com/tour.