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Flatbush Zombies – 3001: A Laced Odyssey | Album Review

Their first studio album, 3001: A Laced Odyssey, doesn’t commercially lean like their previous but almost goes out of its way to disengage any but the most loyal fans.

Album Artwork

Source: Album Artwork

Flatbush Zombies are a notable part of the recent “Beast Coast” movement out of New York. A movement that saw New York recover some ground lost to Atlanta as the home of hip-hop. A$AP Mob and the Joey Bada$$ led Pro Era went on to varying degrees of mainstream success, whereas Flatbush Zombies and to a lesser extent, The Underachievers remained resolutely independent. This resulted in two mixtapes that have while not defined, have certainly made strong hints at their sound, influences, and the genre they plan to inhabit.

This has resulted in a wide range of hits among their fans. Acid nightmare “Thug Waffle” is about the closest they’ve come to a breakout hit, but that hasn’t stopped them making captivating music. They’ve never tried to make crossover hits, but the occasional hooky track is usually amidst heavy hip hop. The druggy element is less post-cloud rap than Future and Metro Boomin are known for and more psychedelic samples over traditional east coast boom bap. So crossover success always felt just a major label record deal away.

Their first studio album, 3001: A Laced Odyssey, doesn’t commercially lean like their previous but almost goes out of its way to disengage any but the most loyal fans.

The first single ‘The Bounce’ isn’t remotely catchy but perfectly displays exactly what Flatbush Zombies are about; menacing instrumentals with deep lyricism.

If what you want is rhymes in abundance then this is the album for you. While the concepts have stepped up to the level of psychedelia that is the heart of their theme, the hip hop has stepped down a level. A part of this is down to the lack of samples. This is most likely down to sample clearance being expensive, too expensive for independent artists making an independent album. The energy has also taken a step-down. It’s clear it’s a deliberate move, with winding interludes and long track run times. With previous effort ‘Better Off Dead’ overstuffed with bangers, a complete 180 leaves the album feeling like a warm up act.

There are no bad songs, but some are stronger than others like ‘New Phone, Who Dis?’ which is a highlight. However, the energy throughout the album is lacking. Lyrically they sound stronger and at their most comfortable; as if each member has found their voice. Meechy Darko has elevated to something else entirely. His vocals sound like they were recorded for a different album, in a different genre, delivering a much-needed jolt. Juice feels less like the eccentric unpredictable element and now is settled as a charismatic rapper and Eric brings the spiritual element of the group. 3001 is the album they wanted to make and fans will find something on here to enjoy; more casual fans less so, but even then there’s still quality hip hop to enjoy. Just don’t be surprised if these aren’t the same Zombies you remember.

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