Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

Album Review: Flatbush ZOMBiES – 3001: A Laced Odyssey

Posted on April 14, 2016 in Album Reviews, Arts & Culture
By Zachary Searles

Online Content

Zachary Searles/News Editor

In a Rolling Stone interview last month, legendary Kiss guitarist, Gene Simmons, stated that rock is dead and hip-hop is dying. Whether that’s true or not, Flatbush ZOMBiES, a hip-hop trio from Brooklyn, New York, is certainly doing their part in keeping it alive with the release of their debut album, 3001: A Laced Odyssey.

The Zombies, a trio consisting of Zombie Juice, Meechy Darko and Erick ‘The Architect,’ who does all the production for the group as well as throwing down versus on almost every track,  have had to sit and watch while group after group come out of New York, just waiting for their share of the limelight. But after putting out three projects and taking their time in crafting an album, the underdog group has built a dedicated fan base and is now ready for their piece of the pie.

With a sound that varies greatly from other groups that have spawned out of Brooklyn within the last four years – including A$AP Mob, which produced A$AP Rocky, and Pro Era, which Joey Bada$$ is slowing bringing into the limelight with his increasing fame. A sound that features trippy, psychedelic and sometimes just plain weird production and a rhyme scheme far ahead of their time, with plenty of psilocybin references and punchy one-liners to get you hooked from the very opening track.

Track Two: “Bounce”

“Bounce” was the first single released from the album and arguably houses some of the best and smoothest production, not just from the album, but from The Architect’s career.

The song references many common themes that can be found throughout the Zombie’s music: the use of psychedelic drugs and that the group is the best out there right now. The Architect uses the song to pay homage to Thug Waffle, the song that launched the group’s career, basically stating that all the traveling and touring and record sales are all due to the launch of that song.

Track Three: “R.I.P.C.D.”

The message of this song is spelled out, literally, in the chorus and in the title: RIP CD. “RIP to the CD, can’t even play my hits / Cause new computer shit without the means to play the shit / We love the boost of speed / We love the memory / It got me feeling like we’re nothing like we used to be.”

The track serves as a eulogy to the compact disc since almost every song bought in the new age is an mp3 download – there’s no need for physical albums anymore. The track also features one of the best Meechy Darko verses on the album, using his raspy, grimey voice to his advantage while touching on topics such as Charlie Sheen, ISIS and of course, another psilocybin reference.

Track Four: “A Spike Lee Joint”

Similar to Spike Lee, who financed most of his projects independently when he was first getting started in the 80’s, the Zombies also fully finance all of their own projects. They paid for everything to produce the album, even paying to hire a comic book artist to do the cover.

The song details the struggles of making music independently, as well as the benefits that come with it, such as being able to keep full creative control, which plays to the Zombie’s favor considering their sound is unique and would likely go under heavy construction if they signed to a major label.

Meechy Darko doesn’t appear on the track, giving a guest spot to Anthony Flammia, another artist out of Brooklyn who delivers the chorus: “Unsigned and independent / Look, tell my moms I did it / When you risk your life, constant struggle to survive.”

Track Five: “Fly Away”

“Fly Away” is a solo track for Meechy Darko over a well crafted piano beat, where Meech takes a break from his raspy style of rap to question his own mortality: “Say hello to Satan, once you cross the bridge / Screams turn to whispers, fighting in the mist / I do not belong here, I think they clipped my wings.”

Track Six: “Ascension”

Halfway through the odyssey comes the rawest, darkest and most aggressive song on the album. Another solo track from Meechy Darko,  he returns to his raspy rap voice to deliver the direct opposite to “Fly Away,” where Darko describes his ascension through the heavens and trying to be better than God himself.

It’s a track like this, with a frightening hook and brutal, dark lyrics that leaves fans to question as to whether they are hearing the voice of the devil himself.

Track Seven: “Smoke Break” (Interlude)

As one can probably deduce from the title, this is a weed song. A slow, laid back instrumental that allows you a break from the heavy track you just finished. It serves as a way for the listener to catch their breath before finishing the odyssey.

Track Eight: “Trade-Off”

The eighth track on the album has an interesting set up, Erick the Architect starts the song with a hook and then Juice and Meech both produce a hook that’s similar but has been altered a little bit to fit their own scenario.

The Zombie’s discuss what success has meant in their life and with this new found fame how their lives have changed. In his verse, the Architect claims that now he can trips and just pay his rent on time. While for Meech his tastes are little simpler, stating that now he can afford better booze and drugs.

Track Nine: “Good Grief”

A similar theme pops up in this song that has been heard in songs earlier in the album and for the Architect, it’s giving thanks to those that have helped him become who he is, along with thanking those that have contributed to his fame.

Juice uses his verse in the song to discuss his life on the road while touring, sleeping with different women in every city and by the end of the verse he is praying that this behavior won’t come back to haunt him with the line: “Sometimes it’s hard to breath / On my knees reaper, please leave my soul at ease.”

Track Ten: “New Phone, Who Dis?”

“New phone, who dis?” Is a response given to duck out of doing someone a favor, so with this song the Zombies are referring to the fact that now that they are gaining fame and fortune, more and more people are trying to get something out of them.

With the chorus of the song, “Rang rang / Who that calling? / The money or the fame? / Shit ain’t the same since we crept up in the game,” Meech explains that with the groups rising fame, their phones are constantly buzzing and things for them will never be the same.

Track Eleven: “This Is It”

This track is arguably the best song on the album with the smoothest production, along with well written verses from each member that are chock-full of meaningful content.

Flatbush has a unique sound, one that isn’t copied from any other group out there and with this song they are simply pointing that out. In a genre that has become full of copycats that produce albums that sound the same as every other album being put out, the Zombies are claiming to rise about that, as they say in the chorus: “All you fools just sound the same / Ain’t no credit to your name.”

According to Flatbush themselves, this song marks the end of the odyssey, the end of your journey through the album and through the lives of these rappers from Brooklyn, New York.

Track Twelve: “Your Favorite Rap Song”

While it’s not technically a part of the odyssey, this song was thrown on the album as a treat to fans and to serve one purpose: to show that they can spit bars better than anyone else out there right now and with this song, they are pretty convincing.

A hip-hop song lasting longer than five minutes is pretty unheard of, but this one spans 13 minutes and even leaves room to include messages that they have received from fans, both positive and negative.

The track shows that the group isn’t playing around and that they are here to claim a throne that they believe is already there’s. The song features one of the best, and arguably one of the darkest, verses Meech has put out to this point, including one of the ballsiest and punchiest in-your-face lines of the last five years, ending his verse with “Y’all should call me Conrad Murray the way I murder Mike.”

Say what you will about the state of hip-hop, whether it’s dying or has merely just changed, one thing is certain: there are no groups anymore. What we have today is a bunch of solo acts that have no meaning in their lines and are only focused on making the next best club anthem. This album provides a message has been needed for a long time: the death of hip-hop is directly related to selfishness, guys that think they can make it on their own and that they don’t need anyone to help them, but as we see with this album, three friends from Brooklyn can make a better album than any solo act has in the last three to five years.