Snotty Nose Rez Kids Sappyfest, Sackville NB, August 2

Snotty Nose Rez Kids Sappyfest, Sackville NB, August 2
Photo: Stephen McGill
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The night before Snotty Nose Rez Kids' Sappyfest set, the rap duo alleged that a patron at nearby bar Thunder & Lightning bet them $50 that they couldn't get the crowd to turn up. That patron owes them far more than $50 — though it took some coaxing, the Kids' deft flows, heartfelt lyricism and impeccable crowdwork brought the house down.
 
Weaving in references from rap's past and present with urgent missives about the state of Indigenous culture and community, it's clear that Snotty Nose Rez Kids are students of the game on the verge of becoming masters. The Haisla Nation duo of Young D and Yung Trybez have taken the music they love and given it an Indigenous makeover, aiming to decolonize the genre one track at a time.
 
It's a message that rang clear with the success of their back-to-back Polaris Music Prize shortlisted albums, 2017's The Average Savage and this year's Trapline, and one that's clearly resonating with audiences worldwide. The Rez Kids' Sappyfest set was one of pure triumph, as they delivered their rap bangers to an excited crowd.
 
Though it took the duo some time to get the crowd hyped, the duo certainly brought the energy. Their rapid-fire, back-and-forth flows were impressive, dextrous and engaging, with their lively delivery letting their messages of community care and Indigenous representation linger, even as they raced onto the next verse. Classics like "Dead Chiefs" and "Skoden" from their 2017 self-titled debut hit just as hard as the tracks from Trapline, including standouts "I Can't Remember My Name" and "Yuck-Sue-Yaach." Familiarity to the audience wasn't necessary — D and Trybez were willing to carry the entire crowd on their own if they had to.
 
Their work paid off. A call to the crowd to turn up further was followed by inviting Indigenous audience to the stage for Trapline standout "Boujee Natives." Their crowd work ignited the back half of the set, featuring the audience crouched in a circle before exploding into a dance party, and a wall of death-style crowd collision to kick off "Aliens vs. Indians."
 
An extended encore hammered home the fact that Snotty Nose Rez Kids are at the forefront of a revolution, and people are listening. Though it took some time for the full SappyFest crowd to join in, the Rez Kids made it clear that it didn't matter when you showed up — once you made it, you couldn't help but join the cause.