Hip hop duo and Haisla First Nation members Snotty Nose Rez Kids have followed up their 2019 release TRAPLINE with another independent excursion, this one called, Life After. Emerging from a long, mentally and emotionally taxing lockdown that saw no reprieve from the epidemic of addiction, suicide, and death that plagues their community, the album serves as an affirmation of life and their commitment to friends, family, and their fans.
The message of Life After may be one of self-love, but it begins with a trap ballad from the vantage point of an undertaker. “Grave Digger” is a subterranean traipse of damp and grave-fog-soup beats where the impact of the duo’s flow hit like shovel fulls of dirt landing around your shoulders and neck as they struggle lyrically to come to terms with the enormity of problems facing First Nation peoples in their native Canada.
While tracks like the spitfire and iron-flavored flow of “Red Sky At Night” and the shimmering, low-riding lament of “No Jesus Piece” address topical issues and give the boys room to lay down some satisfying verses of bouncing, well-earned bragging, these numbers, along with their sister tracks, make for an excellent first half of the album. But ALife After doesn’t truly begin to feel itself until “Something Else.”
Beginning with a few lines of their native tongue, Quinton “Yung Trybez” Nyce and Darren “Young D” Metz express pride in their appearance and extoll others to do the same to the vibrating clatter of a shuttering beat strung together with a clean, ripples of acoustic guitar strokes and encouraging, congratulatory noise.
Things take a turn toward the sunny side on the breathy coo of “Change” which introduces some hot and classically ’90s-styled R ‘n’ B beats to contrast Quinton and Darren’s usually wild and exuberant triplet flow, feeling like a kind of conscious rap tinted proclamation meets variegated affirmational manta. “Deja Vu” is the other side of the proverbial coin, expressing how regularly the trauma of suicide and addiction factors into the common experience of indigenous people dragged along by a hauntingly affected and blackpowder flavored magazine of beats.
You can’t define light without the dark, or life without death, and Life After reflects on the marbled confluence of the two, with rhyme and meter that slice through the psychological and spiritual confinements presented by history and circumstance, to find a new purpose and source of endurance for their endeavors on the other side. Hopefully, you will find some renewed vigor in your own struggle for existence in the grand humility and wild prowess of Snotty Nose Rez Kids’s Life After.