Erick Arc Elliott, ZOMBiE Juice and Meechy Darko make up the incredible trio of what we call the Rap group; FLATBUSH ZOMBiES.
First thing to say about everyone’s favourite living ZOMBiES is that you can’t expect anything. Although their first mixtape, ‘D.R.U.G.S.‘ was a psychedelic, mind-boggling, too-smoked-out-to-do-anything-but-smoke vibes, ‘BetterOffDead‘ is completely and utterly different.
Released on the 12 year anniversary of 9/11, the project isn’t as much as an attack on ‘Murica, but more of a commemoration. A commemoration of what America used to be and what it is now.
On the Rock-inspired intro track ‘AmeriKKKan Pie’ produced by in-house ZOMBiE, Erick (The Architect), one of Meech’s opening bars is an exact sum of America now – “That fear a black man with tattoos and bandanas, But when a white man wear tattoos and bandanas, And joins a bike gang it’s all cool where the balance?’ In these three bars alone, Meech sets up a picture that is not only portrayed in a movie, but is also now a social issue in America.
As the tracklist continues, there isn’t for the most part a down moment. Erick produced the large part of the mixtape (shoulda been an album, if you ask me) with additional production from the always wavy beat-craftsman, Harry Fraud (insert wavy Emoji’s) on the ‘I JUST WANT TO MOSH’ track ‘LiveFromHell’ and Obey City on the solo Meech track ‘TP4’.
The second record, directly after ‘AmeriKKKan Pie’ is the track ‘Nephilim’, which is reminiscent of that off of Tech N9NE’s ‘Anghellic‘. On this track, both Meech and Juice display some of their most conscious and vigorous verses.
Meechy Darko – ‘You might have to keep you a Wesson, Aim at heads of presidents, That’ll make change in a second, Motherfuck your reverend, And all the lies that he telling’
ZOMBiE Juice – ‘Strap a gun and tell them, Put one in my lung, Shoot one through my heart, Rip my tongue apart, Never again to speak this art’. These bars from Juice, describing in the most physical way, the essential instruments he uses to make his music! Using his lungs for breath to flow, his heart where all the emotions of the tracks will come from and his tongue to put into form of vocal-to-visual like effect we hear.
As the mixtape progresses, we get a variety in sounds from Erick as well as content. The track ‘Bliss’ have all three rappers spitting some ferocious bars about people being more ignorant than they seem. We also receive the solo trippy-party cut ‘Thugnificense’ from Juice and the iiiiiincredibly smooth R&B cut ‘222’ from Erick. This track alone is a standout on the tape and from Erick. It displays that not only can he can rap on turnt-up and experimental production (‘Regular and Complex [GNB]) but that he can adapt his style and still make himself sound, dare I say…original.
Luckily, two features also pop up on the album. Firstly, we get the boom-bap-party-record ‘Club Soda’ featuring Action Bronson. Bronsolino provides a pretty turnt-down-waxed-out-verse that doesn’t disappoint. His flow is chilled and while it’s a lot slower compared to Jewice and Erick’s back and forth verses and Meech’s solo verse, however, Bronson always feeds his fans with delicious verses that you can go back to and enjoy.
Soon after, we get another Meech solo track (NOT COMPLAINING) featuring the always ‘Smokin and Drinkin’ Danny Brown. While Meech gives us what we always want; vigorous energy, great vocal delivery and a double-time flow, Danny parks up for the second verse and smashes it. Bragging about smoking Backwoods with wax and how he’s a ‘Supa savage off them tablets’, Danny never fails to give the listener a show in a verse.
To conclude, FLATBUSH ZOMBiES second mixtape, ‘BetterOffDead’ is an outstanding and highly *underrated* Hip-Hop/Rap project in my opinion and of the current generation. It’s an aggressive project with some lighter vibes, noticeably on the stellar stoner track ‘Palm Trees’, which although sets the tone to just spark one up, sit back and relax; it is still swarming with conscious bars and is more of an ode to all the people who said FLATBUSH would never be as successful as they are today!
‘Lions don’t lose sleep, Over the opinion of sheep’ – Fleezus Christ (Meechy Darko)
The project is overwhelming in content from views of religion, American corruption, racial profiling and ‘GNB’.