The Snotty Nose Rez Kids of Haisla Nation, in British Columbia, have been steadily on the rise over the past two years — and on Trapline, it’s not hard to see why. According to the mythos described on the album’s opening skit, the Wa’Wais — or “trapline” — is the land guarded by the tribe; of course, in the world of hip-hop, “trap” is a genre — and it’s the genre that SNRK typically draw on for most of their instrumentals. However, this group trade in high-hats for more piano-forward percussion, making the attitude of their music very different from other trap music. With tracks like “Savage Natives,” “Crazy,” and “I Can’t Remember My Name,” duo Yung Trybez and Young D go dummi, but more in line with a rapper like Common than 21 Savage — toning down 99.9% of the genre’s chauvinism for squeaky clean bars delivered with utter sincerity. SNRK’s dedication to challenging and complicating the stereotypes of Indigenous people signals a sense of responsibility.
The group are also on-the-nose cornballs, and they don’t fight that (“Son of a Matriarch” completes its couplet with “Fuck all these… patriarchs!”), but unlike fellow cornballs J. Cole and Logic, they also don’t complain constantly about not being popular. The group’s rampant use of rap memes allows for shouts out to the rap greats — from Wu-Tang, to Kung-Fu Kenny, to even Lil Wayne — while simultaneously demonstrating a humility that’s usually lacking from artists of this caliber. And unlike, say, Russ, listening to SNRK actually teaches you something about another culture: “Lost Tribe” is a hilarious take on how white people view them, and “Boujee Natives” is a cultural self-critique. The production on Trapline is theatrical, with each ad-lib, pitch-shift, and sound effect perfectly timed and thoughtful. However, the best cuts do tend to come early: The delirious Tanya Tagaq-assisted “Rebirth” pits that artist’s avant-garde vocalese against Trybez’s raspy, in-your-face delivery, and “Son of a Matriarch” presents a deconstructed lounge piano against a melisma of vocal effects, sound effects, and percussion. These provide the best example of everything SNRK have to offer, and hopefully indicate where they’ll go.
Published as part of What Would Meek Do? | Issue 9