Another level of my soul has been opened, and I will not let this masterpiece go under the radar.
Opening like a blockbuster superhero movie, Flatbush ZOMBiES – Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice and Erick Arc Elliott – are introduced to the world. Their mission? To deliver real rap music. The first song off of their highly underrated, and in my opinion groundbreaking album comes under the name of The Oddyssey. This track presents the first glimpse of how heavy, gritty, and full the ZOMBiES’ work is; it throws the listener in at the deep end. Noting inspiration to 2Pac, I wonder if these three offer the icon work to the world through reincarnation.
The three marketeers present unique styles and flows that complement yet contrast each other so well that the album feels otherworldly. The ‘three man army’ are ahead of the game, and Bounce parallels tracks found in the Top 40, yet manages to offer so much more. Discussing the common topics of sex, drugs, violence, and wealth; it is arguable that this is made appealing through the fact that the ZOMBiES’ delivery is so fast that it is hard to catch yet alone depict what is being said. However, there is a sense of humbleness presented as Juice and Darko round off the song with ‘Universe I’m blessed, a new day a new dollar…’. It is communicated efficiently that Flatbush ZOMBiES have the heart and brains to make something out of their talents.
3001: A Laced Odyssey takes inspiration from the movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey which depicts the future much like the ZOMBiES’ music. R.I.P.C.D speaks of the direction the music industry is heading in, and it outlines the difficulty of being an artist in these times – as Elliott recalls ‘…It got me feeling like we’re nothing like we used to be.’
In an interview with XXL, Darko explains that A Spike Lee Joint comes from an encounter with Lee himself in which Darko’s well-wishes were ignored. Darko goes on to say that he channelled his anger into this song, and that he still respects and appreciates Lee’s work.
Darko’s solo track, Fly Away holds a dark outlook and express a want to escape; the feeling of miss-belonging, and the questioning of if there is an easy way out.
Ascension is a direct contrast from the previous track, the collaboration is full of confidence and showcases the goal of being ‘better than God,’ and ‘taking over the world.’ It is one of the hardest tracks on the record; showing similarities to Denzel Curry’s work.
Smoke Break (Interlude) holds an important place within the album; explaining the ZOMBiES’ use of cannabis to enhance their life. Darko, Juice, and Elliot do not discuss the topic of drugs in their music to fulfil or maintain an image – unlike many rap artist today – it is actually the life they live. The end of Juice’s second verse summarises what weed in particular means to him: ‘Sometimes I still get stressed but I just smoke one and count my blessings.’ This channels the use of a Class B drug as a coping mechanism, and goes on to suggests that it has helped him get to where he is today – ‘…you could be everything that you perceive to be. Believe it, seek it to achieve it. And blow dope if you need to see it.’
Trade-Off discusses how life can be both dedicated to work and play, yet perhaps a little more to the latter. The heavy mention of drugs on this track empathises how the ZOMBiES have fun and perhaps use it as a form of escapism from the working element of life. However, work is still represented as important and highly beneficial – Juice highlights that ‘Four years ago I was poorer than you are…’ and Elliott recalls ‘…I just payed my phone and the rent.’ This therefore shows the change in lifestyle that working hard can achieve, and perhaps playing hard alongside that is the perfect combination. It ultimately goes to show how far the ZOMBiES have came.
Good Grief is arguably one of the weakest tracks from 3001: The Laced Odyssey with its repetitiveness and numerous unneeded drug references. However, the track fundamentally speaks of insecurity with oneself and relationships. There is also no doubt that Diamante’s feature elevates the song to another level by often something new to contrast the ZOMBiES’ style.
Not the track behind the meme, but one that certainly deserves world-wide appreciation: New Phone, Who Dis? ‘Enjoy the palm trees, we on vacation’ may be one of the most creative metaphors for weed in modern rap. Alongside this, the many references to the media and icons on this track makes it appealing on a large scale. Unfortunately towards second half, the track begins to demise into representing common stereotypes and features of modern rap – yet, perhaps to attract the average listener.
Doing the most for those that matter the most, this is what This Is It holds at its core – ‘This is it, I do this s**t here for my brothers.’ The track starts with Elliot calling out most rappers today, ‘All you fools just sound the same, ain’t no credit to your name,’ this presents that there’s a lack of creativity in the music industry today, and that the majority of performers in it do not deserve credit for their work because it is all unoriginal. This theme is extended further throughout as Juice claims he has ‘Never wore a disguise, love the skin I’m in,’ which emphasises the idea that Juice is true to himself and that the content he makes is authentic and comes for the heart. He goes onto say “You trade your soul for fame, we ain’t built the same,” which hints at artists working for the Illuminati, and strengthens the point that he is doing what he loves – it is not just for wealth or fame. Meech’s line ‘2Pac in 96 and troublesome; 27 club, here I come.’ suggests he is bound to end up like the greats – dead due the pressure of fame, substance abuse, and/or for causing controversy.
Your Favourite Rap Song is quite literally what it says it is. The outro to this song, the last thing you here from this album summarises what Flatbush ZOMBiES are all about: their fans. This trio appreciate those who appreciate them, and those who listen and understand their music are held to high value.
A unity of perfection, and captivation – a work of art through and through. This album, this trio is exactly modern rap was lacking.
With Blacktivist capturing Clockwork Orange inspired torture that highlights police brutality, war, capitalism, alongside black culture. And Palm Trees, the ZOMBiES’ release with Darko’s verse that speaks out for social justice and against cultural appropriation: ‘This white bitch had the fucking nerve to call me a n**** when she the one paying the surgeon for her lips to get bigger.” The trio are also offering merchandise in celebration of Pride. Like a morally-correct Migos, Flatbush ZOMBiES have secured a place alongside them at Reading and Leeds’ 2017.
With such a solid debut studio album and the right outlook and attitude, it is only a matter of time until they are appreciated by a larger crowd.