Since grabbing the attention of many opening for A$AP Rocky at his first headlining show in NYC two years ago, the Flatbush Zombies have cemented themselves as leaders in the Beast Coast movement. The BK flame spitters shook the blogs with D.R.U.G.S., (which stands for Death and Reincarnation Under God’s Supervision) a experimental and clever project mixing drug references with vicious production. Looking to quench the thirst of their faithful fan base, the trio drop their new project Better Off Dead.
Lyrically, Better Off Dead is a combination of drug references and thought provoking tangents. The intro, “Amerikkan Pie,” is a song about the corruption of the American Dream that finds the Zombies referencing Mayor Bloomberg and other political figures while weaving in and out of the haunting beat. Flow is a huge factor in the success of this trio. Eric, Meech and Juice captivate their listeners with the way they bend words over the often flawless production by Eric Arc Elliot. A prime example of their smooth flow is “Regular And Complex” as the group seamlessly transition from bar to bar, putting the listener in a trance like state as the song progresses.
With such a defined sound, the group is still selective about who they bring into their realm on Better Off Dead, only enlisting two guests on the 19 track project. With that being said, the Zombies make them count as Danny Brown make an appearance, singing and rapping with his trademark intensity on “Drug Parade.” Action Bronson enlists his services on “Club Soda,” delivering clever food-filled bars like “The peppered steak was salty I ate it cause I love her/She put sugar in her vegetables she grew up in the gutter/Tater tots with every meal, her body like a goddess/Fingers, toes are polished, Super Sport Impalas.”
Despite this only being the second project of this young group’s career, they’ve found a distinct sound via their in-house producer-emcee Eric “The Architect” Elliot. While the lyrics can feel a little too drug-focused at times, the range of sounds displayed by the super producer make this tape a must listen. Eric sets the tone early with “Nephilim” an ominous beat driven by the dirty snare snaps and moaning sample that will surely make your heart race. One of the stand-outs from the tape was one of the first singles pushed, “MRAZ.” Eric digs in the crate sampling a combination of Gang Starr’s “Mass Appeal,” Eazy-E “Boyz-N-The-Hood,” and Curtis Mayfield’s 1970 gem “(Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Going to Go.” The ability of the Elliot to mesh sounds from different genres to create dark yet soulful beats is one of the project’s main selling points.
Even though the tape has a focus on drugs, there is evident growth from the group in regards to song formation, flow and production. Despite the huge cult following this group has, the group is still only two projects in and they’ve only scraped the surface of their potential. With the “Beast Coast” movement flourishing, you would be Better Off Dead than being out the loop and not giving this project a listen. –Christian Mordi