The Flatbush Zombies, a trio of talented emcees from Brooklyn, N.Y., have been around for a few years now – making intermittent waves with their unique mix tapes: D.R.U.G.S. and BetterOffDEAD.
After a long run as the underappreciated oddballs in the Beast Coast collective, the Zombies have refined and expanded their sound on their debut studio album, 3001: A Laced Odyssey.
All three members: Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice and Erick the Architect, are in peak condition on this project – delivering some of their densest bars over Erick’s phenomenal production, which is a mélange of plinking keys, orchestral swooshes, booming drum tracks and eerie samples from sci-fi and horror films.
Careful listening reveals just how much odd material the Architect successfully incorporated into the album. One song boasts the sound of a collapsing black hole in its hook and the standout track “New Phone, Who Dis?” turns a cell phone vibration into an interesting complement to the heavy drum kicks.
Erick is no slouch in the rhyming department either, but Meechy and Juice perform lyrical gymnastics on just about every track. Meechy’s bars pinball from Richard Pryor, to Charlie Sheen, to ISIS, to Michael Myers, to Jackson Pollack, to the Giants and the Pulitzer Prize in just one verse on the track “R.I.P.CD.”
While the Zombies do lock into some of their established styles on tracks like “Trade-Off” and “A Spike Lee Joint,” there’s a lot of new ground being explored with this material.
The care with which it’s done ensures that most of the ideas stick, but some of the more “out-there” songs (“Fly Away” and “Smoke Break”) are going to be hit-or-miss for the fans.
The Zombies’ last project housed solo tracks for all three of them, but Meechy is the only one here that gets one – in fact, he gets two back-to-back. “Fly Away” sounds like the first R&B track from Flatbush and “Ascension” is all siren strobes and gruff chanting.
The final track is also worth noting – a thirteen minute odyssey of its own, boldly titled, “Your Favorite Rap Song.” All in all, 3001: A Laced Odyssey is a well-paced, finely produced project that takes a lot of chances and is a much stronger product because of it.
The whole thing has Erick’s fingerprints all over it; he’s taken over as the primary provider of hooks in the trio too, offering a more measured, intellectual delivery that’s bringing Flatbush Zombies to new heights.