When Quinton Nyce and Darren Metz met on the basketball court in Kitamaat Village in British Columbia’s Haisla Nation, they weren’t even 6 years old.
Metz was a point guard — reserved off the court, but a menace when the game started. He studied dribble moves from hoop mixtapes and practiced his handles in his kitchen. Nyce, the older of the two by a few years, played on the wing and preferred to drive to the rim with ambition. They were “kind of like yin and yang,” according to Nyce.
Two decades later, the lifelong friends continue to complement each other in the rap duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids. Their fourth album, Life After, is out now, and the pair is preparing to embark on their first United States tour, including a stop at The Rebel Lounge in Phoenix on Friday, October 29.
Like their previous three albums, Life After displays Snotty Nose Rez Kids’ immense pride in their culture. Yung Trybez (Nyce) and Young D (Metz) walk in the footsteps of other Indigenous Canadian rappers like Joey Stylez, Team Rezofficial, and Mob Bounce.
“I know there’s people that came before us that kind of built the foundation so that we can stand on it and thrive,” Nyce says. “And I just want to just keep passing the torch down and making it easier for people to come up after us.”
Life After’s sound pairs the tenacity of the most outlandish live performers in trap (Ski Mask the Slump God, XXXTentacion, etc.) with the experimental production palette of artists like Baby Keem and Brockhampton. The majority of the album is produced by Metz and California-based producer Kyrigo.
Despite the album’s upbeat sound for a majority of the runtime, Life After ultimately comes from a place of grief and letting go, a theme inspired by experiences in the pandemic. The group lost many loved ones over the last two years, and this album’s concept revolves around getting through life’s traumatic obstacles.
On Life After’s eighth track, “Change,” they rap “I’ve seen more funerals than graduations or weddings.”
“We come from a lot of, like, traumatic backgrounds, especially as Indigenous people here in Canada,” Nyce says. “And we just want to let people know that there’s life after traumatic experiences; there’s life after you go through hell, you know. There’s always more life to live.”
The album cover shows Nyce and Metz airborne diving into a concert mosh pit. This album’s emphasis on live performance is purposeful. After over a year of not performing because of Canada’s strict Covid-19 guidelines, the duo wanted to make a record focusing on what comes next once the pandemic fades away, especially for fans from Indigenous communities. When Nyce sees crowds during their headlining shows, “a good 80 percent are usually First Nations.”
“When you’re making music for a body of people that are so underrepresented … our streaming numbers won’t be, like, through the roof, because we’re making music for them,” Nyce says. “So our numbers won’t be crazy. But wherever we go, there’s a lot of love shown towards us.”
“We’re trying to make it like a safe space for Indigenous people to celebrate themselves — and that’s why we make music.”
At their Rebel Lounge show, you can bet that Metz and Nyce will be delivering their signature high energy and yin and yang vibe.
“We built a lot of chemistry together just playing basketball, and I feel like we bring that same kind of energy to tracks and onto the stage,” Nyce says. “Darren’s the kind of guy that will be, like, so reserved and to himself and introverted. But once he hits the stage, it’s like a fucking animal comes out.”
Snotty Nose Rez Kids. With Lex Leosis. 8 p.m. Friday, October 29. The Rebel Lounge, 2303 East Indian School Road. Tickets are $15 plus fees.