The Flatbush Zombies love Lana Del Rey. Like, really love her. “It was the song ‘Born To Die.’ I cried for the first time in three years when I heard that,” one-third of the Brooklyn horror-rap trio, Meechy Darko, said in an interview with MTV. “I was in the living room in front of all my friends but I didn’t care.”
Now, I’m not sure this is the same reaction I would have had when asked about Lana Del Rey, but I suppose the Zombies do owe her some level of appreciation. Shortly after the controversial singer announced her interest in the trio’s “Thug Waffle” video in an MTV Hive interview, YouTube views for the group increased ten fold, and word of their grimy, weed-centric rhymes shot around the Internet. Since then, the Flatbush Zombies have meticulously released a handful of singles and have conducted a number of interviews with publications ranging from “The Source” magazine to MTV. Yet despite the massive amount of attention surrounding the Zombies, the group has yet to release a full-length album. On one hand this isn’t surprising considering that if they smoked even half as much weed as they rap about, I imagine it would be hard to do much of anything. On the other hand, however, the Flatbush Zombies claim a different philosophy.
“We’ve just been holding on to our music, not letting it get out too much … and the music would hit like it’s supposed to hit when the time was right,” explained Meechy in his interview with the Village Voice. As far as I can tell, and judging from the extreme number of views for each of their videos, this arbitrary and somewhat lackadaisical approach seems to actually be working for the Flatbush Zombies.
Hailing from the Flatbush community of Brooklyn, the Flatbush Zombies consist of beat-maker, Erick Arc Elliot, the heavy-bearded father of one; MC Zombie Juice; and the charismatic (and slightly insane) Meechy Darko. Typically decked in gold-teeth fronts, camouflage puffy-coats reminiscent of early Wu-Tang Clan and surrounded by nuggets of marijuana, I could see where it would be more than easy to label the Zombies as just another pseudo-reggae influenced, weed-praising rap group. Especially with tracks like “Thug Waffle” and lyrics such as “Count it up, bag it up man, we love money, we love weed.” The difference here, however, is that these guys are actually Jamaican, or at least they claim to be. Their flow is unique enough to separate them from the mass of upcoming New York rap acts like Azealia Banks and A$AP Rocky and Elliot’s beats tap into a darker and more frantic realm than a lot of the more accessible groups, which is a nice change of pace from airier artists such as Wiz Khalifa. Though it seems like beats of that description would be tough to rap over, both Meechy and Juice attack their lines with a fury and command unlike any other act I, or Lana Del Rey apparently, have heard recently. Flatbush seems to combine an assortment of somewhat idiotic and entirely random things, and arranges them in a form that makes it seem entirely normal. I mean, how many acts could title a track “Thug Waffle” and still have some form of street cred? Not many.
According to the Flatbush Zombies, “zombie” is more than a name or a fad. To them it stands as some sort of lifestyle or culture. It is what this undead trio is striving for — the ultimate high (no pun intended). “It’s what we’re going through. We ain’t just trying to get high or get stoned or whatever. Zombie is the ultimate,” Elliot said in the interview with Village Voice.
Even though I want this to come off more as a gimmick than anything else, it doesn’t. The Flatbush Zombies are actually as ridiculous as their name, track titles and lyrics suggest, yet they manage to save themselves from the limits of the shock-rap title, unlike Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All and Tyler The Creator. This isn’t to say there is no talent or complexity in their unusual antics; there is. There has to be some evil genius behind the line, “Today I purchased a coffin and I ain’t even died yet, smoked about 100 blunts and I ain’t even high yet.” However, in order to tell if the “zombie” lifestyle is simply some fleeting fad or not, there needs to be more material. When that material will be released, no one has any idea.
But, if I am to trust the Zombies, I’m sure it will be when the time is right.
Dylan is a junior. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.