Album Reviews, Arts & Entertainment, Music

Snotty Nose Rez Kids’ ‘Life After’ explores the pandemic’s toll on mental health

Snotty Nose Rez Kids has never shied away from dealing with difficult subjects, and their fourth album Life After is no exception. Released on Oct. 22, the album explores themes of quarantine depression, addiction, and racism, mixed with a musical complexity that includes elements of punk, hardcore, and R&B. 

Young D (Darren Metz) and Yung Trypez (Quinton Nyce), the duo’s members, are members of the Haisla Nation on the West Coast of Canada. After achieving a new high in their career with the release of Trapline in 2019, the Snotty Nose Rez Kids were planning their first U.S. tour in 2020 before the pandemic interrupted their plans. Life After came into existence after 18 months of isolation, with each song from the album capturing a different state of mind during the pandemic.

“Tour life has such a fast pace, it’s easy to distract yourself,” Metz said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “There were times when we wouldn’t take good care of ourselves mentally and emotionally, and all that stuff that we were ignoring came up during the pandemic, so we were forced to sit down and deal with it.” 

The duo had an entirely different concept album in the works prior to the pandemic, but isolation pushed them into an intensive art block that lasted months. When restrictions began to ease up, they put aside their other project to create Life After, an album dedicated to the hardships COVID-19 brought to both themselves and their community.

“There are times when I don’t want to talk to people about [my struggles], so I just write about it, for my own sanity,” Metz said. “There were things that we needed to say and get off our chest. We came up with [the concept of] Life After because it’s about life after the pandemic, but it could be life after anything, really. Life after depression, or life after success, after grinding for so long.”

Metz describes Life After as a concept album that explores what the future holds after such a definitive moment in human history. The album not only focusses on the impact the pandemic has had on people’s physical and mental health, but also tackles cultural and political changes for Indigenous communities.

The album opens with the track “Grave Digger,” immediately immersing listeners in its dark atmosphere, with powerful lyrics like “I cleanse in the ocean, I don’t need no Baptist.” The entire album follows a unique flow that keeps the listeners intrigued, from trap and R&B sounds to punk and hardcore influences.

The song “Change” holds a special place in Metz’ heart. With the smooth voice of singer ebonEmpress in perfect parallel with the duo’s verses, the song explores the burden of COVID-19 on his community, with lyrics such as “I’ve seen more funerals than graduations or weddings.”

“When I heard the first mix of ‘Change,’ I cried,” Metz said. “After all these difficult times that we endured during this pandemic, those tears were a mix of sad tears and happy tears, like ‘we made it, we survived the goddamn pandemic.’”

Life After mixes joyful beats with darker soulful sounds to create a truly mesmerizing musical experience. The album is a clever combination of brilliant musicianship and candid lyricism, a must-listen for all hip hop fans.

Snotty Nose Rez Kids are currently on the road for their U.S. tour that started on October 25, stopping by Toronto on Dec. 17 and Dec. 18.

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