The word “Brooklyn” conjures up images of all types of illy shit—gold fronts (not grills), bubble coats, designer “wears,” dreads smoking bud like it was legal. Newcomers Flatbush Zombies managed to incorporate all of the aforementioned BK traits into their music and its accompanying visuals while injecting some of their own brand of rap.
Though it’d be easy to dismiss the trio as gimmicky, you can always tell (least I can) when a group of friends organically form a group with a specific sound/style as opposed to artists forming a contrived crew that will probably be defunct in a year’s time. Flatbush Zombies is without a doubt the former. Upon entering their headquarters (located in Flatbush, of course), you get the feeling these kids would be doing exactly what they’re doing whether they were making music together or not. In fact, music almost played as the background to our initial interactions. Soon enough, though, the convo in the smoke-filled room did turn to their music and backgrounds. Here’s what Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice and Erick Arc Elliott had to say about the Zombie, er, afterlife…
First and foremost: What in the fuck is a thug waffle?
Meechy Darko: It was mad early when we were recording the track. And we were all hungry. We had been talking about Tupac, so I think that’s where the “Thug” part derived from.
Zombie Juice: Yeah then Erik said something about pancakes and we were going with that name, because it was like 4 a.m. and we’re high and hungry. But then Meech is like “Fuck pancakes. Thug Waffles bitch!” And that was it.
Meechy: But you can make it whatever you want it to mean. People think too hard about it. We smoke weed and eat waffles. That’s it.
Judging from how you guys interact, you guys have been friends a long time.
Meechy: Absolutely. 95% of our relationship is outside of music. If I lost my vocal chords today we would still be hanging out.
Juice: It just works better because we already have that chemistry. Plus when we critique one another it doesn’t come off like “Fuck you!” Erick will tell me to say something a little different and I’ll take his advice.
So how did you guys meet exactly? High School?
Juice: Nah. We knew each other before high school. Meechy and Erick are from the same block in Flatbush. But we went to different high schools. [Juice went to Midwood and Pacific and dropped out; Erick went to Brooklyn College Academy.]
Meechy: I went to Medgar Evers until I dropped out.
You’ve got legions of nugs in your video for “Thug Waffles.” You worried about the “weed rapper” title?
Meechy: No. It’s just a part of our day to day.
Juice: A big part. We smoke every day. Me and this guy have smoked together, like, everyday for four years at least.
Meechy: Yeah, it’s a pretty big part but it’s not the only part. You can’t just make simple songs like, “I’m rolling up. I’m smoking up. I’m floating up.” You have to have other dimensions to you. And I mean, there is a big oversaturation of pothead rappers, but I’m fucking Jamaican, so I’m a fucking smoker. That shit’s in my blood.
I see. Pardon the pun but you guys have gotten pretty high up the ladder, considering you’ve only been officially a group for a short time.
Meechy: Well it’s not like we aren’t children of hip-hop. Even though we just recently formed the group we were still heavily influenced by rap.
I used to write rhymes just to write rhymes about what I do way back before I even thought of being, like, a for-real rapper. From the outside looking in, it may seem like we struck with one song. But we’ve just been holding on to our music, not letting it get out too much so we could control it and the music would hit like it’s supposed to hit when the time was right.
Still, you guys kind of just hit out of nowhere. Can you attribute it to anything?
Juice: The stars just aligned. We just feel blessed.
Meechy: Also I feel like the people want something different right now.
I usually hate this question but I actually want to know… Who are some of your influences?
Juice: I personally don’t listen to too much stuff. I listen to Ghostface, The Grateful Dead… of course I like Biggie. A huge percentage of my musical influences can be traced to Big. But also I like artists like Necro and Ill Bill.
Meechy: Stuff he listens to rubs off on me so I like Necro too. Shout out to Ill Bill. But I fucking love Nas, I fuck with André 3000. Wu-Tang… every single one of them. Big Pun of course. New guys, I fuck with Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar. I fuck with Rocky. Other than that we listen to Zombie shit like 80% of the time.
I’m guessing movies influenced you guys a lot too.
Meechy: Hell yeah! Of course the Friday the 13th movies and Dawn of The Dead, but also movies like Bully and Kids and Porky’s and Belly. Movies definitely feed my imagination.
Erick Arc Elliott: My dad used to let me watch all my zombie stuff as a kid even though my mother wouldn’t let me. As I got older my interest in zombies never really stopped, so it carried over into the music.
So what’s the meaning of Zombies to you?
Erick: It’s a culture, it’s a lifestyle. It’s what we’re going through. We ain’t just trying to get high or get stoned or whatever. Zombie is the ultimate.
Juice: Smoke till you’re a Zombie.
Meechy: Well, the way everyone is saying we’ve skyrocketed onto the radar, it’s like we were resurrected. Like we went through some hardships and were bought back in this form. We skyrocketed because we had this know how from our past lives. We’re Zombies.