On January 13, 2020, Meechy Darko of Flatbush Zombies shared with his followers that his father was shot and killed by Miami police officers. Many months later, the country is faced with the coronavirus pandemic, as well as ongoing protests after the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Oluwatoyin “Toyin” Salau, and so many others. Even as artists continue to release new music to increase awareness and support the Black Lives Matter movement, Meechy is still torn between being a spokesperson against police brutality and staying silent on the issue. The influence he has as an artist is not something he takes lightly.

“Can you imagine how I feel right now?” he asks me. “Do you want me to go on a song and really say what I want to do when I look at a cop? Do you want me to say that? Do you want me to go tell kids that kind of stuff? I have to be conscious and smart because when my people do shit like that, we're called anarchists. We're called crazy revolutionaries.”

Instead of letting Meechy’s father's death cripple them, Flatbush Zombies have used it as fuel for new initiatives to affect change on the largest scale possible. In June, they dropped an EP called Now, More Than Ever, their first release since 2018’s Vacation in Hell, accompanied by merch raising money for organizations making a positive impact in the Black community. They raised $100,000 in one day shortly after the announcement on social media, and over $150,000 in total. Noticing how powerful their message can be, the group channeled their energies into individual efforts to help their community. Erick Arc Elliott says he’s been looking into how he can educate kids to understand the vast information that’s on the internet while Zombie Juice is focused on building his Talking Terps brand and learning more about self-sustainability.

Flatbush Zombies have been a must-see group out of the East Coast since going viral with their dark and stoned-out single, “Thug Waffle.” Back-to-back years of foundation-building mixtapes like 2012’s D.R.U.G.S. and 2013’s BetterOffDEAD grew their reputation as an essential new rap group and laid the foundations of a dedicated fanbase that still stands behind them today. They’re part of the hip-hop supergroup Beast Coast with Pro Era and The Underachievers and have a reputation for putting on one of the best live shows in hip-hop. It’s rare to see a group remain together for almost a decade, but it works because they move like family, with an unbreakable bond.

Flatbush Zombies have always acted in the spirit of giving back. To be independent artists in this industry while still caring about your art and message is no easy task. With their James Blake collab "Afterlife" and a new NPR Tiny Desk (home) concert out now, the Zombies spoke to us about staying productive during quarantine, their upcoming full project with James Blake, remembering Mac Miller, and dealing with trauma.

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