Words About Music
Flatbush Zombies “BetterOffDEAD”
For the past three years, a new East Coast hip hop movement has took the rap game by storm. While Kendrick and Danny and 2 Chainz are all doing great things for their respective cities, it’s been a while since we’ve had a great New York movement. Now we have A$AP Rocky and his A$AP Mob, Joey Bada$$ and his Pro Era, The Underachievers, and Flatbush Zombies, although the latter three hail from Brooklyn while the A$AP Mob are from Harlem. All those groups have some great releases under their belts, but the one that doesn’t get discussed as much as they should is Flatbush Zombies, who are sort of like the East Coast’s answer to Danny Brown. Their styles of rapping and producing are somewhat unconventional, and they refer to reefer in their tracks quite a bit, as well as several types of hallucinogen. Last year, the Zombies—who consist of rappers Meechy Darko & Zombie Juice and producer Erick Arc Elliott—released their excellent debut mixtape “D.R.U.G.S.,” which stands for “Death and Reincarnation Under God’s Supervision.” Now the Zombies follow that up with “BetterOffDEAD,” which is far and away one of the best mixtapes of the year. And here’s why.
Sure Flatbush Zombies talk a lot about drugs, specifically shrooms, LSD, mescaline, pot, DMT, etc. This may make them not so relatable, and maybe a bit repetitive to some people. To me, though, this is just part of Flatbush Zombies’ culture, interests, and their life. And what is hip hop but stories about people’s lives? So, lyrically, it may not please some people. There’s references to the Boston Marathon, a hefty amount of “fuck you”s, and a song titled “Amerikkkan Pie.” Also, it was released on 9/11 and is called “BetterOffDEAD.” Flatbush Zombies aren’t really asking for a record deal here. But that’s only half of the edginess (not the obnoxious kind) and fearlessness within this mixtape. It wouldn’t be a truly great release without some truly great production. And that’s exactly what Erick Arc Elliott brings to the table. Some beats hit so hard they could be charged with assault and battery, whereas others are simple and effective without being too busy.
While the big picture of this mixtape includes great beats and drug references, there also some little bits that just make me love this mixtape even more. The hooks to “Palm Trees” and “Drug Parade (feat. Danny Brown)” are some of catchiest hip hop hooks I’ve heard all year, and they involve pretty much no singing. Which brings me back to “Drug Parade,” which features Danny Brown. Singing. Yes, the rapper with the high-pitched nasally voice practically sings on this track. Makes one wonder just how many blunts him and the Zombies shared before recording.
While “BetterOffDEAD” isn’t for everyone, neither are a lot of things. It proves that Flatbush Zombies are probably the most worthwhile and consistent act in the entire Beast Coast movement. They’re original, strange, intelligent, loud, and have this acid-soaked aesthetic that makes “Acid Rap” look like “Weed Rap.” It’s a very fun mixtape that’s worth the entire hour that it spans, but I perfectly understand if it’s not your thing.
SCORE – 9.2
FAVORITE TRACKS – Amerikkkan Pie, Nephilim, Bliss, Death, Regular and Complex, Club Soda (feat. Action Bronson), Palm Trees, Drug Parade (feat. Danny Brown), GOD Blessed the DEAD, MRAZ, The Results Are In