On their third album TRAPLINE, Snotty Nose Rez Kids cast a wide sonic net. The Haisla Nation rap duo of Yung Trybez and Young D craft a musical landscape that oscillates from the metallic minimalism of the Dirty South, to the stormy soundscape emblematic of Toronto, before coming in contact with contemporary trap’s glitzy high rollers. In between a melodic approach that’s apt at sliding in send ups from artists as wide-ranging as Kendrick Lamar to Lil Pump, SNRK have honed their melodic strategy to a fine point: using a foundation of familiar sounds as a launchpad to introduce new narratives.
By stacking the album with a long list of dynamic collaborators, SNRK redistribute the channels of storytelling by passing the mic to award-winning throat singer Tanya Tagaq, esteemed rap group The Sorority, and Calgary’s very own Cartal Madas among many others. The result is a powerful follow up to 2017’s Polaris Prize-nominated album, Average Savage that extends its reach wider and upwards. On tracks like “Lost Tribe” they destabilize the power of stereotypes by flipping them into the butt of the joke. Elsewhere, album closer “Yuck-Sue-Yaach” sets its sights on international reformation: “To us, ‘Yuck-Sue-Yaach’ is the most important song from TRAPLINE because it recognizes our people for what they are.
At its core TRAPLINE feels momentous due to its ambition and potential. By fusing a social mission with a desire to pass forward knowledge through the nebulous oral tradition of hip hop, TRAPLINE offers a new generation direct access to a comprehensive history—while also filling in the gaps that public education missed. The album is also a reminder of the many manifestations of resistance; that sometimes it’s a protest, other times it’s an irresistible bop. Because unravelling a colonial legacy means looking sharply at its impact, and forcing a new future to the forefront, by any means necessary. In an effort to get to the root of their method, we asked Snotty Nose rez Kids tell us the back story behind every track on the album.
“A trapline is a permanent imprint on the land that has been sustained through time by our ancestors, who then passed this responsibility on to us. While we are only here for a short time, we each have our roles and responsibilities to uphold. Our territories, laws, and customs will never change, but if our physical existence is too damaging to our lands and waters then we are both failing our ancestors and setting our descendants up for failure. OUR FUTURE IS IN OUR HANDS.”
Rebirth feat. Tanya Tagaq
“The first thing you will notice about ‘Rebirth’ is that Tanya Tagaq will lower your heart rate! She sounds incredible on this record, as she does on all her records. ‘Rebirth’ is pretty much our introduction to the album and it lays the foundation for the rest of the album. We don’t want to give away too much about what we want you take away from this one. We will let you decide what you wanna take from it.”
Son of a Matriarch feat. The Sorority
“We come from a matriarchal society where our matriarchs hold the power and our clans are held and passed down from our mothers. SOAM is our way of paying homage to the powerful women who raised us to be the men we are today. The Sorority represent all the badass women in this world so we asked them to take this record and make it their own!”
Creator Made an Animal feat. Boslen
“We bring an aggressive and assertive energy to a song that exposes the way society portrays indigenous people and POCs across Turtle Island. Our ancestors were stereotyped as savages and we are often looked at as the pissed off generation who haven’t gotten over what colonization has done to our lands and our people. We assert ourselves as the father 7th Generation and let the world know we aren’t changing for anyone.”
I Can’t Remember My Name feat. Shanks Sioux
“The title suggests we are lost and don’t understand our position in this new world but the lyrics tell the opposite. Instead of being consumed by society we preserve everything that makes us indigenous by staying true to ourselves through all the bullshit.”
Lost Tribe feat. Kimmortal
“I was thinking of calling this one Lost Tribe. I still need to talk to D [Young D] but this one got me thinking about pushing through rejection in a society that forced us to be outsiders on our own land… But really being hype and self-assertive and arrogant about it!,” Young Trybez remembers. This was the text message Yung Trybez sent to Kimmortal along with a demo of the hook. Kimmortal replied with: ‘Dayummmm! that’s something I totally relate to. Also as artists outside of the mainstream, I’m ready to go hard with a title like that. I love the hook too.’”
Hooligans feat. Brevner
“We making noise yea we know! We see a lot of real deadly people making noise, leading movements, and standing for change in this world. Sometimes it’s hard to find the energy to keep pushing forward, we know this, so we made an anthem!! We about to get some noise complaints!”
“We dem boujee natives! When you think of boujee, you think of an elite class of people with an appetite for luxury and high-end materials. However, when WE say Boujee Natives we are letting you know our wealth lies in our culture, traditions, and what the land provides us…. buuuuuut, we are ALL artists so we keep each other looking fresh while keeping it tradish!”
“As First Nations youth we are taught to be modest and humble as we walk through life. We spend a lot of time and energy holding each other up and somewhere along the way we forget to love ourselves. ‘Urban Legend’ reminds us how important self-love is for our healing journey. It may come off as arrogant…. But thats just how we feel.”
“The late “Baba Garf” [Young D’s grandfather] would always say “don’t act crazy (wath’la)” which meant tread lightly and always be respectful. We live by these teachings but we are the 7th generation and we are holding on to this undeniable energy that we cant hide or shy away from in a time where we need to embrace it and simply wil’ TF out! Some say we’re wath’la… some say we’re crazy….”
Aliens vs. Indians feat. Cartel Madras
New energy, old energy, whatever energy. Two different versions of brown, two different types of Indian. We speak from our contexts; Cartel Madras speak from theirs. WE TURN TF UP TOGETHER!
Savage Mob feat. Nooky & Birdz
Last summer we traveled to Australia to perform at Darwin Festival and link up with some Indigenous artists to see if we could cook up something real deadly. We wrote and recorded 4 demos, absolutely killed the festival show, and spent a week getting to know these 2, BIrdz and Nooky. The Mob welcomed us with open arms, introduced us to their people, showed us their lands, and shared a bit of their history with us. This is global shit, Savage Mob is the Indigenous resurgence!
Hunger Games feat. Brevner
“‘Hunger Games’ embodies the concept of consumerism and capitalism acting as the coalition to our demise. A lot of us can’t find happiness or satisfaction with what we have, whether it be material, people, positions, or power. Greed often takes control. As a society, we are being consumed by our hunger for more. ‘Hunger Games’ is life or death!”
“This was the first song written for TRAPLINE before the album was even TRAPLINE. Yuck-sue-yaach means “you bad” in the Haislakala language and what better way to put on for all the bad ass people in our lives than to chant YOU BAD in our ancestral language? ‘Yuck-Sue-Yaach’ is an anthem made for Indigenous people across the world to reind them of the strength they carry in their DNA. Strength, knowledge, and power that was passed down from our ancestors. To us, ‘Yuck-Sue-Yaach ‘is the most important song from TRAPLINE because it recognizes our people for what they are. BAD AF!”
TRAPLINE, the third album by Snotty Nose Rez Kids, is out May 10. You can listen to “Creator Made an Animal” below.