For our 2013 XXL Freshman Class of 2013 issue, staff writer Shaheem Reid caught up with New York upstarts the Flatbush Zombies to discuss their recent ascent to fame. Check out the feature story, photo outtakes and a behind-the-scenes video from our exclusive photo shoot below. 





[photos courtesy of Ahmed Klink]

Rocking Dead: With A Raucous Live Show And A Growing Cohort Of Passionate Fans, Brooklyn's Flatbush Zombies Are Helping Bring New York Rap Back To The Good Ol' Days.
by Shaheem Reid


As a rabid crowd chants, the three young men onstage are having the first how-did-something-so-surreal-even-happen moment of their careers. It’s March 2012 and the Brooklyn-bred trio of Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice, and Erick Arc Elliott—together known as the Flatbush Zombies—are doing their first club performance. Fittingly, it’s taking place right in their backyard, at the legendary Southpaw, just blocks away from a still-being-constructed Barclays Center.

Just last week, the Zombies were set to be one of the many opening acts. But during the past two days, their debut video— the rebellious, sonically engaging, nonsensically titled “Thug Waffle”—hit the Internet and the proverbial shit has hit the fan. Or should we say fans? In just 48 hours, the Zombies’ buzz among the partygoers has built so feverishly, Southpaw’s booking agent has been pushing their set progressively further back on the bill. Fans yell “Thug Waffle” during breaks between earlier sets, and when it’s finally time for the Zombies to hit the stage, they don’t disappoint. Hungry and animated, they feed off the energy of a crowd, delivering their rap with fervor.

“Today I purchased a coffin and I ain’t even died yet,” Meech barks, straining his voice above those of the fans reciting along with him. “Smoked about a hundred blunts/And I ain’t even high yet/Wrote my verse in poison ink/Watch you biters digest.”

At the end of the song, someone in the crowd shouts out, “Do that shit again!” Meech glares out proudly. “Should we do ‘Niggas In Paris’ in this muthafucker,” he asks. The chant goes up again, “Zom-bies! Zom-bies!” And as you can guess, the record is recued... Four more times.

“That shit; I feast off that shit.”

A year later, Meechy, 23, remembers the show at a Manhattan photo studio. “That shit is like wrestling, bro. It’s interacting with people in the crowd.”

“I love how women are all in the front row,” says Juice, also 23. He’s the quiet one of the bunch, but the most recognizable, due to his Rick Ross-esque beard and silky blonde ’fro. “All our shows now, they’re all lined up in the front row. They get kicked around, too, in the mosh pits.”

Since last Spring, the Flatbush Zombies have been on the road, building a rep for bringing the ruckus with ballyhooed spot dates including SXSW 2012 and 2013. Now, they’re gearing up for 2013’s Beastcoastal Tour with their good friend and fellow New Yorker, Joey Bada$$.

“I love jumping in the crowd. I have cut myself numerous times,” says Meechy, his dreads—now twice as long as they were in the “Thug Waffle” video—tied back behind his head. “Performed while I’m bleeding.”

“My teeth always fall out my mouth,” he continues, with a smile to show his gold fronts. “I always find them, though. Shout out to the fans who help me find my teeth. I bribe them. I tell them I’m gonna give them weed. I never give them weed though.” He laughs. “They’ll never believe me now!”

To read the rest of Shaheem Reid's feature story on Flatbush Zombies, pick up the new issue of XXL, on newsstands now or get XXL right now on your tablet.