The car service driver just beeped his horn and I manage to gather my things and hop in the cab without leaving anything important behind. Brooklyn zips past my window and before I know it I’m at the Flatbush Zombies’ lair. I text Erick “Arc” Elliot, who rounds out the three man Zombie squad as a producer/rapper. I’m outside.
After a minute the door opens up, and Elliott stands there looking a bit rumpled. He mumbles an apology for the four or five flights of stairs we have to endure. As we get closer to their floor the aroma of burning Fronto leaf and weed gradually gets stronger. When we enter the apartment Meech Darko is leaning on a black leather couch playing NBA 2K13.
Zombie Juice is dialing up some pizza delivery. His phone voice is so exaggeratedly proper he’s got the rest of us laughing, which is cool because it kind of kills any awkwardness having a writer around may have caused. Instead, deep chuckles permeate through the clean but sparsely furnished living room because Juice facilitating the pizza order sounds something like:
“So what type of beverages do you have, hmmmmmm?”
“Can you make that a margherita pie, hmmmmm?”
“And do you think I can I have the total please, hmmmmm?”
I sit next to Meech on the couch and comment that it’s surprising that they’re not playing GTA V since that’s all I (and every other GTA freak) did all weekend. “Nah, I need about two hours of not playing GTA right now,” he says as he selects his team. “Besides I already beat it on some nerd shit. I had time because I’m just enjoying some time off before the tour [on October 10th]. I almost feel like I’m on vacation.”
Meech chooses the Miami Heat, and is laying the groundwork in the first quarter for a fairly thorough thrashing of Elliott and Juice’s Portland Trailblazers. There’s lots of shit talk. Meech takes a puff off a blunt being passed, not bothering to pause the game. The Trailblazers take advantage and score. “That’s the only way you’re getting highlights,” he says fully confident that he’ll win. “When I’m getting passed the joint.”
As a joint makes its rounds and Meech conducts his 2K13 clinic, the high starts to set in. I start thinking about Clyde Drexler and wonder why he’s been bald since he was a rookie. Or has he? Didn’t he have a ‘fro at first? I Google him to verify and do an honest to God double take when I see we have the same birthday. Or am I high? A triple take seals it. We do share the same birthday. Random. I ponder what the universe is trying to communicate to me as I put out the doob. The ashtray is a cool shape. I take a picture of it.
I take a picture of a Sega Genesis. I take a picture of a Super Nintendo. I take a picture of an N64. More people arrive. More weed is smoked.
The food arrives but it’s devoured in seconds now that there are more gentlemen of leisure sitting about the room. The weed is consumed at a similar rate. Meanwhile, Elliott and Juice are taking their impending loss well.
“The game’s broken,” jokes Elliott after unsuccessfully defending the paint against LeBron James.
“That was fantasy,” chimes in Juice with mock frustration at Lebron/Meech’s dexterity.
We talk about recent events in rap for a good while. Now that the high starts to settle Meech is scrolling through his Netflix queue looking for the next thing to smoke about. “I need at least another hour of no GTA,” he says. He almost settles on the 100 Best WCW Moments but instead goes with the “The Subway Hero” episode of 30 Rock. A few minutes into the episode and that gets deaded as well. They pause the Liz Lemon to listen to The Needle Drop’s Anthony Fantano review their recently released album Better Off Dead. It’s a rave review overall but Fantano says something about drug references that hits a sore spot.
“We really don’t talk about drugs that much,” says Meech. “I’ve read maybe three reviews and one of them said we had ‘exhausting drug references.’ We have maybe two or three songs about drugs on this album and we talk about a range of topics… Long story short man, I don’t do drugs.”
And he’s right. Songs like “Regular and Complex” and “Amerikkkan Pie” off Better Off Dead don’t advocate drug use. Upon further prodding about his current drug intake, Meech even goes so far to say that he’s quitting weed for a while after today’s interview. “Rolled up my last nug this morning,” he informs me. “I haven’t had a break in years.I want to get in good cardio shape for the tour. I want to get in the shape of a wrestler so I can stage dive and crowd surf. But Juice ain’t quitting though.”
By now the munchies are coming back, and more snacks are needed. We trek it to the closest bodega. Upon return Juice is playing a round of GTA. Meech plays next, stealing a Bentley and launching rockets at police helicopters. We dig into the snacks.
One more joint is burned. Conversation has died down a bit, and with it, the laughs. Everyone’s in a light stupor, not exactly zombie high but steadfastly approaching catatonic. Instead of calling a cab I decide to walk to the train so I can clear my head a bit. I give departing handshakes all around and make my exit into the Brooklyn sunset leaving cookie crumbs, ashes and empty Nantucket Nectar bottles in my wake.
Download Better Off Dead
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 27, 2013