New York City has always been one of the central hubs of hip hop music. From old to new groups and solo MC’s, all have built their career from scratch and the age-old saying that New York is one of the toughest markets globally to crack remains in tact. However, Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice and Erick “The Architect” Elliott, better known as the Brooklyn collective Flatbush Zombies are more than ready to take their stab at not just NYC but the wider American and global hip hop arena with their studio debut LP 3001: A Laced Odyssey. The project takes us to the land of fiction and dreams as the trio spit their way through their realm introducing us to their rules and abilities.
The album’s intro ‘The Odyssey‘ interestingly doesn’t appear to feature a chorus, or any of the traditional elements of tracks in general nowadays, just straight lyrical content. Zombie Juice kicks off the track here talking about his life in the streets and lacking educational accolades. He seems resilient in letting everyone know that hasn’t stunted his growth and capacity, he leans to the streets who have “made him a sicker breed”. Further sentiments of his abilities are found later on in the verse where he declares that “These nigga’s aint fit to be king” and tells them to ask Jadakiss why. The confidence is definitely felt and leads nicely into the project and gives of the vibe and personality that hip hop is most renowned for; the competitive, assertive and ultimately passionate spirit.
On a deeper level, ‘3001‘ delivers. Although bringing the premise of a psychedelic universe, Flatbush Zombies still are able to bring the depth and ability to relate on tracks such as ‘Fly Away‘ which questions life and drugs. Meechy takes prominence here and really leads the track “I’m getting high// What’s suicide and the pain// Say hello to Satan once you cross the bridge” he spits. Although these lines are ambiguous in exact reference, it’s that exact quality that makes the song so compelling, it allows a lot of different listeners to get different thoughts and reflections from the lines, is it the fame? is it directly suicide? is it life in general? The subtle ambiguity works perfect here amongst a mellow and hypnotic soundscape.
After some interludes and smoke breaks – literally [an album track title] it’s Erick’s time to shine, and his animated and contemporary flow definitely shows off his individuality amongst the Zombies. ‘Trade-Off‘ talks about working hard and playing just as hard. What’s interesting is that surrounded in all the fun are the side effects of the fun-life Erick indulges in. “One puff of that fluffy stuff, shit hit me like a sucker punch. Side effects include mass paranoia plus the cottonmouth”. Erick’s accountable to the repercussions of his lifestyle and in contrast to a lot of rappers directly speaks about this within the music It’s definitely intriguing that within this realm of madness, the messages this collective bring to the table are very-much realities of life and the consequences of actions taken.
We’re given a bit of fun with the trap influenced ‘New Phone, Who Dis‘. All three rappers take control here, each adding their individual flairs to the downbeat and techno production. The song talks about the new life of fame that the Zombies have been rapidly edging into. Meechy uses the hook to conceptualize this “Shit ain’t the same since we stepped in the game// So I get high and try to maintain”. All three pretty much take us through their weed filled lense of madness while incorporating the brands lavish life-styles and realms they’re taken to all while balancing the task of making it. The song as a whole is very metaphorical and clearly demonstrates that all three as a whole work very well together but clearly depicts the escapism each of them are so reliant on.
3001: A Laced Odyssey is a very solid and conceptual debut, using the mental and virtual universe, the Flatbush Zombies literally bring real-life issues to the table but depict them in such a calm and soothing way that you can zone out and jump in at any point without feeling lost in translation. The band however keep attention through their individual rapping styles and production and once you’re introduced to the landscape they’ve created [by about Track #3], the album instantly becomes certified fire. If you don’t know Flatbush Zombies and what they are about, you definitely will after a spin of 3001.
Words by – Nicolas Scott