Snotty Nose Ground Kids’ latest single ‘I’m Good’ heralds hip-hop duo’s emergence from pandemic and follows 2020 album life after.
“life after was to experience trauma, to live the life that we are forced to live,” says Quinton “Yung Trybez” Nyce. “‘I’m fine’ is just letting people know…we’re still here and ready to go.”
Darren “Young D” Metz says the album was, among other things, about the concept that no matter what stage you go through in life, there is life after.
“There is life after the pandemic,” says Metz. “There is life after depression. There is life after struggle. There is life after achieving that ultimate goal and success. There is only life after that. We did our best to touch every emotion and bring it to the fore.
He adds that the record and its creation were healing, and necessary for them to move forward. The two have been locked up at home for much of the pandemic, and Nyce says the isolation was “tough on mind, body, spirit, bank account and relationships with people you were unable to continue”. Both are relieved to be back on the road on tour; Snot Nose Rez Kids will be at Summit Music Room Sunday, September 18.
“It’s medicine for everyone in the room whenever we’re all together in a room doing what we do best,” Nyce says.
Metz and Nyce are both members of the Haisla Nation, a First Nations community in British Columbia; both currently reside in Vancouver, where they got their start playing open mics in the coastal city’s hip-hop scene. They learned about hip-hop from older family members when they were kids.
“At first, we were hanging out with older cousins who played basketball, and it was just all the classic ’90s stuff,” Metz says. “Especially the West Coast – Tupac, Dre, Snoop and everyone else. Obviously you had Biggie, the East Coast, and that just evolved over time.
Nyce adds NWA, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Eminem to the list as early inspirations.
“My uncle listened to Outkast a lot, so we discovered the Atlanta sounds early on,” he says. “We fell in love with what rap can do for people’s lives.”
Hip-hop allows him and Metz to express themselves the way they want and tell stories in their own way, says Nyce. “Indigenous people are born storytellers,” he explains. “I come from a family of leaders. Being able to use my voice is important to me, my family and our community because I feel like I have a powerful voice.
Metz remembers that his mother was always the host of the community at parties or other gatherings, and he drew on that memory and applied it to his music. He reiterates that he and Nyce just want to tell their stories the way they want them told. “When we were coming in and no one was listening, we knew deep down that if we keep telling our story the way it needs to be told, the universe will gravitate toward it,” says Metz. “That’s what we did and that’s what we will continue to do.”
Snotty Nose Ground Kids brings to mind bands like the Wu-Tang Clan. The comparison is less in their sound – the duo have a unique style, delivery and sound – than in the way their lyrics offer a sense of the world they come from. They often tackle serious issues that affect the Indigenous community as a whole, but Metz says both speak from their own context.
“We can’t necessarily speak for everyone,” he says. “We know that by just talking about our context, being raw and uncut with it, people connect with it. It has not only helped us find a sense of belonging and find ourselves, but it also helps other people.
Nyce adds that Indigenous artists and other marginalized artists are often trapped in being “a voice for the people,” but that’s not what he sets out to be. He says you can only be a voice for yourself, and if people relate to it, that’s great: “We’re both cis men from a small aboriginal community in northwest British Columbia that moved to town, and we’re just talking about our background. We keep in mind that many people say we are a voice for the people, and we make sure to be sensitive to that.
The two strive to provide a safe space for their shows, which they say is often lacking in Indigenous children. They grew up in a somewhat segregated community, where finding your niche might be a challenge.
“We’re letting people know that they have the opportunity to be comfortable with who they are, no matter where they’re from or who their parents were,” Nyce says. “For us, as long as you know who you are, that’s all that matters.”
He adds that other Indigenous people they spoke to on their travels said the music gave them a sense of identity and belonging.
“We are simply proof that we can exist in this society in which we live, in which we are forced to live,” he says. “A lot of people can live in their own skin because of the music we make. … When we were growing up, it wasn’t really offered to us.
Snotty Nose Ground Kids, 7 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 18, Summit Music Hall, 1902 Blake Street; tickets are $17.50. For more music, visit snottynoserezkids.com.