Review: Rap Trio Flatbush ZOMBiES Releases Debut Album
The first time I ever heard about the rap group Flatbush ZOMBiES was a week or so after my friends attended a music festival in B.C. last summer.
They saw them at the Pemberton Music Festival and spoke highly about the energy and charisma of the Brooklyn-based rap trio.
Having grown up with these friends, I had good faith in their words, and I looked forward to the upcoming release of their new project, 3001: A Laced Odyssey.
As soon as I first heard the lead single “Bounce,” I was already thrilled to see how this track would fit into the narrative of an LP. The electric guitar that lurks in the forefront of the song backed with a string orchestra makes for a forward-moving listen.
It was also an appropriate track to showcase the kind of flow that Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice and Erick “The Architect” Elliott would be delivering throughout the whole project. It was totally unconventional but also versatile in the most fitting way possible for Flatbush ZOMBiES.
With the opening track, “The Odyssey,” it’s clear that the listeners are in for quite the experience— as if watching Stanley Kubrick film of similar name, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The song establishes the style of production that is rooted throughout the whole project. Spacey instrumentals with sizzling percussion scattered everywhere is layered with an underlying smooth bass that keeps the rhythm of the song going. The song “R.I.P.C.D.” is my personal favorite tune off the whole album and clearly stands out from the rest of the track list.
Erick “The Architect” Elliott channels an eerily similar flow and tone of voice to that of Q-Tip, from the highly influential rap collective A Tribe Called Quest on this track, especially on the hook. Furthermore, Meechy Darko’s delivery is outstanding and extremely well executed towards the last minute and a half of the track, almost to the point of making me feel physically exhausted trying to keep up with his verse.
At one point within his flow he sounds like he is completely out of breathe but continues to push his effort in annunciating every single last word before he finishes completely.
At first glance of the cover of 3001: A Laced Odyssey, I was able to form some sort of an idea as to what kind of colorful production styling the trio would settle on for this project. Examples of this can be seen on the track “Smoke Break,” which offers a sedated feel with simmering high hats accompanied by a booming drum beat that feels abrasive but isn’t overbearing at all; in fact, it fits well together and makes for a pleasantly fun interlude.
Another example of this can also be heard on the track “Fly Away,” which has a simple piano ballad playing across the duration of the track that brings upon a somber feeling. I wasn’t much of a fan of Meechy Darko on this track, who sings instead of raps over this melody, but I understand the perspective of this approach.
The lyrical content is pretty dark as he talks about belonging in a world that he isn’t sure is real in his current state of being and how smoking weed can help him escape this confusion. The contrast of the lyrics to the instrumental are appropriately fitting.
When it comes to lyrical content, the Flatbush ZOMBiES want to make one thing apparent and it’s that they love to use drugs. More specifically, they enjoy smoking weed and taking LSD as they navigate their way through life trying to figure out what it all means.
The way the content is presented still makes for a fun listen but also wears out thin very quickly. By the time the record has reached it’s end with the track “Your Favorite Rap Song,” I feel like I can predict whatever subject matter they’re going to want to present to me.
Yet on this specific track, the trio spit bars over a murky piano progression backed with a basic drum beat that makes you feel apart of the collective posse. It’s some of the best material that the LP has to offer.
In the last five and a half minutes, the song takes a quick sharp turn with of the track being voice recordings from fans and haters alike, either praising the group for their work or dishing out insults of disinterest. This would’ve been an interesting way to end the album if it wasn’t dragged on for the entire last half of the track.
On my first entire play through of the album I was instantly hooked onto the kinds of personalities these individuals had to offer. Even though there isn’t anything entirely new being presented to the listeners, it still feels like a fresh take on the genre of hip hop.
It’s also worth noting that the ZOMBiES released 3001: A Laced Odyssey independently through their own label, The Glorious Dead. This means that they marketed the entire project themselves and were fully in charge of the kind of story they wanted to tell.
With that kind of creative freedom and ability, the rap trio were able put forth a piece of work that feels truly representative of the experiences they’ve lived through growing up in the neighborhood of Flatbush, Brooklyn.