In Sudbury on Aug. 16 at the Grand Theatre as part of Up Here 5
By Mike Devlin
Hometown shows can produce a range of reactions for touring musicians. Home is where your harshest critics — family, friends — often reside, but home is also where you get the most love.
The hip-hop duo of Darren (Young D) Metz and Quinton (Yung Trybez) Nyce encountered the latter reaction earlier the year when their group, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, performed at the Kitimat Zoo nightclub in their hometown of Kitimat.
“It was crazy,” Metz said in an interview from his current home of Vancouver. Metz and the Snotty Nose Rez Kids are in Sudbury on Friday, Aug. 16 at the Grand Theatre as part of Up Here 5.
“That is where everything started for us. Everybody was singing damn near every lyric — it was amazing.”
Theirs were humble beginnings. Metz, 26, said that when he was younger, the live music scene was non-existent where he lived. He was forced to rap over instrumental beats during karaoke nights at a local bar, but that helped him hone his craft. “To go from that to [the show] the other night is pretty phenomenal.”
Snotty Nose Rez Kids originates from the Haisla Nation in Kitamaat Village, which sits at the head of the Douglas Channel in British Columbia.
Their purpose, according to Metz, is to showcase First Nations culture, chronicle their journey as artists and inspire Indigenous youth in the process.
Metz feels as if it’s mission accomplished on that front. “Growing up, we didn’t necessarily have pride. We dealt with a lot of self-hate and whatnot. To see young people showing their pride, whether it’s learning the culture or growing their hair, it’s an amazing feeling.”
Snotty Nose Rez Kids encountered success almost immediately after moving to Vancouver. Their 2017 album, The Average Savage, was shortlisted for the 2018 Polaris Music Prize and drew a Juno Award nomination this year. The group released its new album, Trapline, on May 10, and followed that with its first performances in Europe.
“It opened our eyes,” Metz said of recent dates in England and the Netherlands. “But we realized, during those dates, that it is not about how far we’ve come — it’s about how far we can take it.”
Trapline, which is overtly political and unexpectedly witty, came about after Metz and Nyce abruptly stopped working on the followup to The Average Savage and journeyed in a different direction.
Five songs were scrapped and replaced with songs of a more conscious tone. “The original plan for this project was going to be Rez Bangers and Koolapops, and that was going to be more of a fun record and not so political. But the certain milestones we achieved — Polaris being one of them — we are now at a national stage, and we can’t put out a record where it’s just about partying and b——. This is the record we had to make.”
Life on a reservation can be bleak, and both Metz and Nyce, 29, endured their share of trauma. The outpouring of emotion that goes into each song by the two friends — from The Warriors, which was inspired by Trans Mountain pipeline protests, to Lost Tribe, which features the piercing lyric: “Halloween is the only time you wanna be me” — plays a role in their healing, Metz said.
Weighty topics notwithstanding, humour will always be part of the project. That was obvious from the jump, given the group’s moniker.
“When we first came up with the name, there were two reactions and no in between,” Metz said with a laugh.
“There were people who were surprised, and the other half who were like: ‘I get it.’ And even to this day, it’s still that way.”