Who are the Flatbush Zombies, Brooklyn’s psychedelic hip hop sensation ?
Numéro caught up with the Brooklyn based psychedelic hip hop trio on the night of their concert at the Trianon in Paris. Photos: Darryl Richardson for Numero.com.
It all started on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. Erick Arc Elliott and Meechy Darko had known each other since they were kids. At high school they met Zombie Juice. Together the three of them soon formed Flatbush Zombies. Today these three highly complementary artists embody a unique sort of psychedelic hip hop sound. Close to other rappers in theBeast Coast rap movement such as A$ap Rocky and Joey Bada$$, they emerged from the shadows with their first mixtape D.R.U.G.S in 2012.
We were always among those kids who listened to a lot of things beyond rap. When I was little, people called it ‘white folk’s music’.
Sometimes hovering, sometimes forceful, their style – like an ode to acid trips with a visual identity inspired by comics and references to Stanley Kubrick movies – is instantly recognisable.Their rap is acidic, mesmerising and rocky all at once, like an amalgam of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and the Beastie Boys. It’s no surprise then to hear that rappers Jay Z, Busta Rhymes and the Notorious B.I.G play as an important a role in their list of influences as the group Nirvana and singers John Mayer and Beck. “We were always among those kids who listened to a lot of things beyond rap. When I was little, people called it ‘white folk’s music’.” Erick Arc Elliott
Last March and six years after the release of that first mixtape, the Flatbush Zombies are busy promoting their first album 3001: A Laced Odyssey produced by Erick “The Architect” Elliott. While they first achieved recognition by evoking their own drugged out trips, they also deal with more political themes as with the track Blacktivist. Through their lyrics and the accompanying video that features several snippets of footage showing police brutality against the black community, they denounce the level of insecurity in deprived neighbourhoods.
As for the track Trade-Off from this first album – whose video was shot in Shanghai – they invite reflection on the alienating nature of the work place. At the end of their concert last Sunday, the opening notes of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit rang out and the Flatbush Zombies delivered their closing message message: “Open your mind!”
3001: A Laced Odyssey de Flatbush Zombies. Now available.
By Rafaëlle Emery