The personal and political mélange of Snotty Nose Rez Kids' I'm Good, HBU?
Here's a shortlist shortcut to the rap duo's 5th album
Hip-hop duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids' fifth album I'm Good, HBU? is one of this year's 10 Polaris Music Prize-nominated albums, and CBC Music's Shortlist Shortcut series is back to help music fans find out the key details about the shortlisted record.
Dig into the stories behind the albums, the tracks you need to know, and the perfect summer activities to complement your listening. You can also listen to The Ten radio special on the album, below.
Snotty Nose Rez Kids.
I'm Good, HBU?.
Polaris Music Prize history:
This is the Rez Kids' fourth time on the Polaris short list: their 2017 album, The Average Savage, made the short list in 2018: their next album, Trapline, landed on the list in 2019; and their 2021 album, Life After, was on the list last year.
Story behind the nominated album:
Snotty Nose Rez Kids (SNRK) have made one of their tightest, sharpest albums with I'm Good, HBU?. At only 22 minutes long, the duo's fifth record shows Haisla rappers Quinton "Yung Trybez" Nyce and Darren "Young D" Metz doing what they do best: executing clever, humorous wordplay that calls out injustice over catchy instrumentals. Opening with a skit that places the pair in an interview with a clueless radio host who cannot get their name right, the album kicks off with the Rez Kids calling out ignorance. From there, they deepen the narrative by addressing issues of climate change, the ongoing reverberations of colonialism and more, over cutting bars.
The duo showcases a knack for witty lyricism that hones in on these topics, expertly using basketball references ("I'm Good" toys with James Harden and Kyrie Irving's track records) and double entendres ("Paint the Town Red" refers to the bloodshed of genocide while also including the Rez Kids' proud acknowledgement of their culture) in order to seamlessly blend the personal and the political.
"This was born from what Life After turned into," Nyce told the Toronto Star about the album that he and Metz executive produced. "It's more about the experiences of coming out of the pandemic and what those experiences were for us. With this album, we realized how fragile life can be, and how fragile our careers are and how there's no promise of tomorrow. It makes you realize that you shouldn't take anything for granted."
I'm Good, HBU? is SNRK remaining fearless, imaginative and empowered. As always, they take heavy, complex issues and distil them in a way that's concise and engaging, but as Tristan Grant, the host of CBC Music's Reclaimed points out: this album is a sonic "victory lap."
Real-life radio host (and Big Brother Canada contestant) Kiefer Collison serves as the bumbling DJ in the skits at the beginning and end of the album. Collison hosted the show Journeys on Canada's First Nations Radio.
"Damn Right" shows off the pair's effortless flow, and incorporates various lyrics celebrating Indigenous pride. The vibrant accompanying music video is a colourful, meticulously crafted tribute to the Beatles that demonstrates how SNRK are creating their own legacy as Indigenous hip-hop artists.
Cleverly tackling global warming, "Hot Planet" manages to have lots of fun with its lyricism — "I'm hotter than the grease when my grandma make her bannock/ we're hotter than the planet, we never couldn't never planned it" — despite the song's dark themes.
Recommended if you like:
Run the Jewels or Lil Wayne.
Summer activity pairing:
In the spirit of "Hot Planet," do your part to help the Earth this summer and put this album on while you tend to your garden or do some tree planting.
Don't miss Shortlist Summer: a season-long showcase of the 10 albums shortlisted for the 2023 Polaris Music Prize. Read the weekly Polaris Shortlist Shortcut feature at cbcmusic.ca/polaris and tune in to The Ten radio special every Sunday night at cbc.ca/listen.