TORONTO — Snotty Nose Rez Kids rappers Darren Metz and Quinton Nyce weren’t equipped as children to analyze the vicious Indigenous stereotypes and racist caricatures flashing on their TV screens.
Like many kids of the late 1990s, they were raised on a steady diet of Disney classics while living in Kitamaat Village on Haisla Nation in northwest B.C. Some of those animated movies sent clear negative messages about their identities that echoed throughout the community.
“Peter Pan” presented Native Americans as “savages” who spoke in monosyllables, while “Pocahontas” romanticized colonialism by framing it against a love story. Metz and Nyce remember how elders rarely questioned the ways Hollywood movies taught the Indigenous youth to devalue themselves.
“We grew up with a lot of racism in our community,” explains Metz, the 26-year-old MC known as Young D. “It was normalized, even to me and my parents.” The wounds of those memories flow throughout “The Average Savage,” the rap duo’s 2017 sophomore album nominated at this weekend’s Juno Awards in the Indigenous music album category.
The 16-track project rebukes those damaging stereotypes they say affected generations of Indigenous people, drawing from audio samples of Bugs Bunny cartoons and a conversation about mascots broadcast on Oprah’s talk show. Each clip is a pop culture reference point for rhymes about racism in Canada.