- The contagious energy of each track
- Meechy's raspy mic prominence
Friday 6th April 2018; the momentous day Brooklyn hip-hop trio the Flatbush Zombies release unto the world through their own label Glorious Dead Recordings (they are 100% independent and a fine example of how you can strive independently in the music business) their second full length album and carry on their ascendancy up the ladder to greatness. With the unleashing of ‘Vacation in Hell’, the psychedelic renegades certainly take you on a trip and have affected the genre of hip-hop positively yet again.
The group spearheaded the release of the album with a short movie (just under 10 minutes duration) that gave fans snippets to some of the album’s content and potentially upcoming music videos. ‘Vacation’ as the film is suitably titled showcases Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice and Erick ‘the Architect’ Elliot discussing in comedic fashion how they are gonna get anyone to listen to the album, whilst sat in a Brooklyn diner they each get approached by some well-picked guest appearances (Ice-T, Lin Manuel Miranda & John Leguizamo) who give the undead spitters a piece of their respective minds.
The project itself is awash with classic Zombie philosophies and mindsets which are emphatically and tastefully delivered with an appealing mixture of humour and swag throughout save for a couple of more serious and sombre tones which are executed just as expertly. The mood of the album and each particular track is something the trio manage to constantly and effectively deliver and convey to listeners – you truly do feel every word.
The use of autotune for the hooks of two tracks – ‘Vacation’ and ‘Big Shrimp’ that are both packed with enjoyable and memorable verses including a Joey Bada$$ feature on ‘Vacation’- performed with an air of effortlessness and self-confidence by Juice was a touch I personally did not anticipate and I think similarly a good few of the Zombie gang faithful may not have seen this coming, however the venture yields positive results and continues to prove the versatility of the group and strength they have in their vision and execution of ideas. Worth noting this is actually not the first time such a style has been the centerpiece of an FBZ tune, 2013’s excellent ‘BetteroffDEAD’ mixtape featured a solo Juice song ‘Thugnificense’ that boasts an infatuating autotune chorus.
There are a handful of varied featured artists holding down a spot on ‘Vacation in Hell’, from Joey Bada$$‘s boss display verse on the celebration track ‘Vacation’ through Jadakiss assisting Mr Darko in calling out a lot of the facade and fakery circulating in the industry and inflicted by other rappers on ‘Facts’ to final track ‘The Glory’ featuring Denzel Curry that took a few by surprise as it has quite a chilled out vibe and does not feature Denzel‘s trademark vocal approach, opting instead for a more laid back delivery of his introspective, sympathetic reminiscing lyrical content.
Dia‘s soulful and simply beautifully sung melodies illuminate the emphatic and explosive ‘Chunky’, the more searching and reflective life anxiety venting ‘Trapped’, and ‘U&I’ which is a tale of the power and love of brotherhood that gifts us two minutes of straight top form Meechy grimy bellowing. I’m talking full on gravel concrete hard, so hearse and raspy it almost hurts and yet as ever with Mr Darko‘s delivery he retains great clarity of diction seemingly no matter how viciously he snarls, while also broadcasting all the emotion and expression of his words so clearly is what for me places Meech so highly on my list of rappers, not to mention his lyrical prowess and vocal range, I don’t really know how he manages to produce notes as high as Juice while still supplying supreme rasp – I just listen in awe and screwface..
‘Ask Courtney’ the gritty, dark excellent midpoint voyage through ‘Vacation in Hell’ laid by a gloomy, looming beat is animated by well exchanged bars that ooze smoothness from Erick and Meech, the latter opening with an extreeme example of when love can hurt: ‘Love hurts, ask Courtney she killed Kurt’ a blunt reference to conspiracy theories suggesting Courtney Love had something to do with the death of Kurt Cobain, to set the tone for the song. Lyrical exercise proceeds to follow building up to a slight half time break before they hit you with the DMX homage flow deployed with a quickfire back-to-back.
There are many magical moments across ‘Vacation in Hell’ that culminate in a well-rounded project that packs a real punch and displays improvement technically and positive musical creativity from each member, takes you on a great value roller-coaster ride holiday. Special nod to Erick ‘the Architect’ for yet again providing an amazing blueprint of production work as he was at the helms of crafting all but three of the entrancing instrumentals fulfilling the album.
‘Vacation in Hell’ is available now for purchase direct from the website and all usual retailers as well as being live on all digital music streaming services!