Yeah, as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I pray the Creator look out for D Metz
Cuz I ain’t really really been to church in awhile
And there really really ain’t no church in wild - Hunger Games
Almost 40 years ago, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five released their smash-hit song The Message and unleashed hip-hop’s power to tell meaningful stories of those struggling from injustice. Much of current hip-hop music focuses on the experiences and selfish desires of the artists themselves rather than speaking on behalf of the listener in the way The Message did. Fortunately, there are still a few indie hip-hop artists who harness the original power of hip-hop, and the Snotty Nose Rez Kids is one of these groups.
Snotty Nose Rez Kids is a hip-hop duo from the Haisla Nation in British Columbia, Canada. TRAPLINE is their third full-length album with a message of hope for indigenous listeners and a call for non-indigenous audiences to listen and learn. Their mission is clear: “As the Snotty Nose Rez Kids, we speak back to the stereotypes that present us as untamed, ill-mannered and vulgar savages, reclaiming ourselves as the seventh generation on the rise.”
TRAPLINE offers hope for the indigenous listener, speaking to the pain and anger caused by generations of injustice while also celebrating the beauty and strength of the indigenous culture. Boujee Natives takes the concept of being boujee (having swag, rich, elite), which Migos popularized in his rap song Bad and Boujee, and critiques it.
Rather than being consumerist and self-focused, Snotty Nose Rez Kids celebrates a swag that comes from being authentic to one’s own culture. Another song named Yuck-Sue-Yaach, a Haislaka language phrase that means “you bad,” celebrates the many habits, characteristics, and accomplishments that makes an indigenous person unique. The song is meant to be an encouragement.
The album educates the non-indigenous listener of many aspects of the indigenous culture. Many words and concepts are defined for the benefit of those who might not understand. The first track on Trapline, called Wa’wais, is a skit that explains what a trapline is and the significance of it.
Other tracks, such as Aliens & Indians, address negative stereotypes directly. The tune samples from old TV shows and newsreels that depict the indigenous people in harmful ways. They also explore the troubled relationship between the western Christian church and indigenous people. Listeners contemplate the problems caused by the colonizing church over the centuries. Yet spirituality is still valued on the record; they mention the Creator often.
Reconciliation begins with the recognition of the other person. TRAPLINE helps bring awareness in new ways to the indigenous and non-indigenous listener. We all have a responsibility to know what is happening so we can ensure behaviors change and no further harm is inflicted.
NOTE: There are some challenging themes and profanity that might be difficult for some listeners. (Fontana North)