From clean water and pipelines to racism and mental health, Snotty Nose Rez Kids doesn’t shy away from tackling tough issues.

This time it’s personal.

Over the past four years, hip-hop duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids have emerged as one of the most important voices speaking out on issues affecting Indigenous communities. On Polaris Music Prize shortlisted albums like “The Average Savage” and “Trapline,” the duo of Darren “Young D” Metz and Quinton “Yung Trybez” Nyce addressed issues ranging from lack of clean water and locations to pipes to racism. and mental health.

But with the fourth album “Life After”, released on Friday, the Kids decided to tell their own story, using the pandemic as a central theme. After the release of “Trapline” in 2019, the Kitamaat village duo of northwestern British Columbia in the Haisla Nation were about to launch their headlining U.S. tour when COVID-19 ended to all of this.

For Metz and Nyce, it was frustrating and devastating.

“We felt like we were just about to get to where we wanted to be,” Metz said from Vancouver on a joint FaceTime call with Nyce. “It was so close we could smell it and taste it, and then the pandemic hit. Go from a hectic life to being locked in the house? (It) hit us creatively.

Metz explained that much of the stimulus that artistically propels the Rez Kids is based on experience – and the momentum was taking shape.

“To be able to come and go across Canada – to Australia and Mexico and overseas in the UK and the Netherlands – to be able to experience it and know it,” he said.

“We had everything planned for 2020, a huge year, just to make us take it. “

The 13 songs “Life After” were written and recorded after the Rez Kids overcame a creative block that Nyce said lasted “more than half of the pandemic.”

“It took us almost a year to get over that, because all the hard work we put into (the tour) made it feel like this work never happened. It definitely set us back creatively, ”said Nyce.

“But to come out and see where we were heading, a possible album release, tours opening up, it opened our eyes and got us back to normal.”

“Life After” is meant to be a statement about a shared experience.

“This pandemic has touched us all: mentally, emotionally, spiritually,” Metz said. “A lot of people have been affected differently and we just wanted to let them know that they are not alone.”

Nyce goes even further.

“Every day people, especially young people, often look at us as if we are something they could never achieve. When it comes to our music, we like to let them know, “Yeah, we’re like you. We come exactly where you come from.

But they also feel that as Indigenous artists they are more watched than most artists.

“We realized, after doing the self-titled ‘Snotty Nose Rez Kids’ album – where we talk a lot about mental health, community suicide and stuff – that we were taller than we ever thought. regarding our voice. A lot of people were listening to us and watching us for advice and how to spend their day, ”said Nyce.

“We realized it was going to be bigger than us. “

On the album, they share songs about depression, family struggles, and other dark themes.

“We just decided it was time to tell our personal story about some of the raw realities we grew up with,” Metz said. “On songs like ‘Deja Vu’ we grew up around drug addiction and trauma. We’re just shamelessly always on our own. We let people know that it’s okay to be vulnerable and to tell your story. This is exactly what we are doing.

And through that, they hope to share a message about resilience.

“Through everything we go through – tragedy, any misfortune that happens or anything negative – there is always more life to be lived,” Nyce said. “Things work out on their own; even if you feel like you are in a mess and think there is no way out, life still works out on its own.

“That’s what we found ourselves in this year: in a hole that we couldn’t get out of. It was scary sometimes and I felt like everything we had done had gone to s —… You just have to figure out how to get out of it.

“Life After” contains much of the imaginative production of Snotty Nose Rez Kids’ previous efforts – captivating syntax, interesting pitch manipulation, elegant rhythms, unpredictable effects and sounds on tracks as punchy as “Grave Digger, ”“ Red Sky at Night ”and“ Bully Mode ”- but there are two upbeat positives,“ Change ”and“ After Dark, ”in which the pair say they’ve resumed their mojo.

Metz names “Change”, marked by a soft guitar riff and a thoughtful narrative, as his favorite track. It features oral and vocal contributions by artist Dae Shields, aka ebonEmpress, who Metz met during an artist retreat his partner hosted at an Airbnb in Chilliwack before the province resumed lockdown last November. .

“This vocal recording was so organic you could hear people walking around the B&B, opening the door and saying, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ But that voice was so good I had to keep it, ”said Metz.

“This verse was a turning point. It also represented growth, given that the winter that my girlfriend and I had just passed, we lost nine of our family between the two of us. It seemed like every week such and such died. When I heard the first mix, I won’t lie: I cried. But they weren’t sad tears; it was, ‘we f — in’ got through this pandemic. ‘

“So ‘change’ holds a special place in my heart. ”

For Nyce, “After Dark” “put me in my feelings and emotions, just thinking about what I had been through (during the pandemic) and it was hard to reconnect when I finally wrote it.”

As they embark on an 11-date U.S. tour that kicks off in Boise, Idaho on Monday, it will be the recent Western Canadian Music Award winners’ first long road trip since the first grave at a residential school took place. was confirmed in Canada on May 21. Source, there have been as many as 6,500 graves discovered at residential school sites and the number seems certain to increase.

“It hit me pretty hard,” Nyce said. “We Outrageous know our truth, don’t we? We always knew that this day would come and that it is our reality. I have a lot of uncles and aunts and even my parents who are all residential school survivors.

“I feel like Darren and I take a lot of weight and put it on ourselves when things like this happen, especially to be the voice of a people who are still oppressed to this day.

“And that pissed us off a bit too, because there was a buzz – an online sensation when this all happened – so people could share the news on social media when the first 250 were discovered. Now we are over 5,000 and no one really seems to care. It is an ongoing thing and it will be until it is done. We’re going to have to deal with that for the next three or four years.

Snotty Nose Rez Kids has even less faith in promises made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to tackle reconciliation, saying the Liberal government must “show us something before we ever believe what they say.”

A good first step?

“Everyone is aware of the whole issue of drinking water,” Nyce said. ” What should be ? It takes money. They could therefore devote money to it and take care of communities that do not have clean water. It is a human right.

“It’s ridiculous that we live in a society in this country where communities have not had clean water for generations. It’s embarassing. So let’s start there. The list goes on and on, to be honest, but let’s start there.

Nick Krewen is a Toronto-based freelance contributor to The Star. Contact him by email: [email protected]

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