The Brooklyn crew comprised of Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice, and Erick Arc Elliott made their Internet debut as Flatbush Zombies with a video that celebrated two of their favorite things: weed and waffles. The duo flashed gold fangs at the camera, smoked L’s like its legal, and ate waffles next to Sour Diesel nuggets.
Next came a viral spark that got the attention of hip-hop blogs and a few major labels, but it didn’t stop there. After a string of trippy videos for “S.C.O.S.A.”and “Face-Off (L.S. Darko),” Flatbush Zombies released their first full-length mixtape, D.R.U.G.S., last week. From Kilo Kish's magnetic appearance on “JupiterSound” to the syrupy, smoked-out “Laker Paper,” D.R.U.G.S. is every bit a strange smoker’s album as it is an introduction to the left-field collective.
On the heels of spitting fiery verses on A$AP Mob’s “Bath Salt,” we decided it was time to find out Who Is Flatbush Zombies? During a visit to the Zombie Palace, the crew kept the weed in heavy rotation while they played quick rounds of NBA 2K12. As expected, rap talk was plentiful, but the conversation also drifted to the meaning of “zombie,” movie influences, “Thug Waffle” hate, and why they can’t stop wearing Supreme. Continue reading for a look at it all and a better understanding of who these rising rappers really are.
As told to Eric Diep (@E_Diep)
Growing Up In Flatbush
Learning How To Rap
Erick: “My brother played Wu-Tang Clan’s “Protect Ya Neck” for me. I don’t know how old I was. He was like, ‘You are going to learn all these words of the first verse and I am not going to let you out of this room.’ If I didn’t say it he would punch me or he wouldn’t let me play video games. So I was like, “I smoke on the mic like smoking Joe Frazier/The hell raiser ...” and I learned it. Eventually I wanted to start writing my own shit because it was super cool and I knew [Inspector Deck's] verse so well and I wanted to write one too. That’s how I started that.
“And beats, my mother bought me a beat machine. She bought me a MV-8000. It was the Roland joint. I saw RZA have it. I was like, ‘Damn, I want to be like these guys. These are my idols.’ I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing for two years. I got kind of sad. I was like, ‘Damn, these other dudes bought this machine, why are they making hits and classic records?’ I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. I really almost stopped. But it's kind of crazy that even still to this day these guys are like, ‘Yo, you are a producer.’ And I really didn’t accept that until like two years ago cause I was like, ‘Nah, I’m a rapper and I make beats.’
“If two years was the benchmark, I was always doing shit but I never sent it to nobody because it was whack. I didn’t really fuck with it. It wasn’t until I gained that confidence. That was the Flatbush Zombies shit. My solo shit. I was like, ‘Damn, this is good enough to send out.’ I didn’t really work with other artists. I never really wanted to. Now, I got the opportunity.”
Meech: “I always used to freestyle for fun. But Juice, I think it was two and a half years ago, Juice was on some sober shit. He had gotten sober. I guess bored out of his mind. He just started writing rhymes and it started making me write rhymes. And it made me take it a little more serious.”
Juice: “I quit pot for like four months when I was like 19 years old or some shit like that. I don’t really remember how old I am now. My birthday did just past. July 8. I’m a Cancer [Laughs.]
““I’m overload/I’m over gone/Time to get this paper on/Fetty, Mozzarelli/Modern day Fonzierelli.” Me and this guy we used to watch Happy Days DVDs and shit. That was one of the first rhymes I wrote based on one little experience that we had. “
Meech:“We made a song. It’s probably three years old and shit. The opening line was, “Ready to die, track 17. I’m suicidal/Ran out of Dutchies, so we used a paper out the Bible.” We would just do [rapping] for fun. Just rap amongst each other back and forth. It wasn’t really like, ‘Yo, let’s do this.’”
“There wasn’t no force, no pressure or no plan. It was like, ‘Yo, I’m rapping.’ It was an exercise. You and your friends smoke weed together. You and your friends ball together. We rap together.” - Meech
Juice: “Yeah, there wasn’t really any plan.”
Meech: “There wasn’t no force, no pressure or no plan. It was like, ‘Yo, I’m rapping.’ It was an exercise. You and your friends smoke weed together. You and your friends ball together. We rap together.”
Juice: “I remember the exact emotions we were going through at the time in music. People were dropping whack records. Bad music. We weren’t listening to nobody because everything was pretty shitty. We were just like, ‘Yo, let’s just make music for our friends and ourselves so we can listen to it and smoke to it.’ That was one of the emotions we were going through at that time. Years ago.”
Meech: “Our approach wasn’t really even having the mindstate of: ‘We gonna bring some new shit.’ Our approach was more like, ‘We are going to do what we want to do.’ There are no rules really to music.That’s pretty much what it is. We do what we feel. We rap about how we feel at the time. No two songs are going to be alike. Although you may hear us say that we smoke weed in this song compared to smoking weed in that song. I felt different when I wrote that before I wrote this.”
How Movies Influence Their Sound
The Meaning Of Zombies
The Making Of D.R.U.G.S.
Meech: “We released songs one by one because if we didn’t do it this way then we probably wouldn’t be here. People have been telling us to drop a mixtape since a fucking year ago. If we dropped a mixtape a year ago, we probably wouldn't have this interview right now because we weren’t ready. We just weren’t ready. It’s about timing. Plan and order is cool. I love order. But sometimes, you just gotta follow fucking emotions and vibrations. ‘Yo, now it's the time to drop a song.’ Every time we did it like that, it worked. ‘Yo, let’s just do it like this.’ Now, it's time to drop this.”
Erick: “I think some people thought we were doing it purposely. There were no real plans.
Meech: "Most of the songs on the tape were done a long time ago. Year and a half. We were just building it to be a better song. What was the first song we recorded? “YBA”? First song for this tape was “YBA.”
Erick: "That shit was mad old."
Meech:“We were like, ‘Damn, this song is infectious.’ This chorus is infectious. Not saying we didn’t expect to make a song that good, but it was weird to kind of made a song we thought it was really good before we were ready for that. We were practicing for a sec. Really just having fun, which how good records come out. We started with that and we were like, ‘Alright, let’s try this again.’ We made “Laker Paper.” We like, ‘Damn, this song is fun as fuck.’
We are still not ready to release it though. All the songs we had we used to play it here. Just play amongst ourselves. No one knew these songs. We just made music for our friends and for ourselves. Once again no scheduling, really. Erick would hit us up. ‘Yo, I got this beat, “S.C.O.S.A.” I got this weird beat. I don’t know if you are going to like this shit.’ I listen to it. ‘Nah, I fuck with it. Imma rap on this.’
It’s really organic. That’s how we like to do it. “At first, we were thinking like, ‘We have to record like 35 songs to take out enough songs to make a good mixtape.’ And then it started to get to the point where everything we were recording was really good. We didn’t have much throwaway. We probably have four throwaways for recording from two years.”
Juice:“We made songs in between saying we didn’t want to use or still play to ourselves.”
It’s really organic. That’s how we like to do it. “At first, we were thinking like, ‘We have to record like 35 songs to take out enough songs to make a good mixtape.’ And then it started to get to the point where everything we were recording was really good. We didn’t have much throwaway. - Meech
Meech: “Face Off (L.S.Darko)" was not going to be on D.R.U.G.S. “Face Off” was a song that we just had. It was just chilling there and eventually just found it's way.
Erick: “That whole Miami shit happened. We didn’t release it because of the Miami shit.”
Juice: “People thought the song was made when the Miami shit happened. That song was made a few months ago before that happened. Six, seven months ago.”
Meech: “Damn this is how old it is. I rapped on Pusha T’s “My God” beat.”
Juice: “Oh yeah, not even a month ago. It was a year.”
Meech: “Whenever the “My God” instrumental came out, I wrote to the “My God” instrumental and spit on it. Then I just sit on that shit for mad long. ‘I don’t feel like releasing it since it's somebody else’s beat. Just let it be.’ This nigga Erick, ‘Yo, could you build a beat around this?’ He took the vocals, built a beat around it, had that and sat on that for five months. A nigga ate a nigga’s face in Miami. And there you go [Laughs.]
“Originally, it wasn’t even on that beat. It was on another song, he just built the beat around it. So however old that Pusha T song is, I was writing the verse to the beat before the beat was even out.