Flatbush Zombies: ‘People look at us funny for rapping about death’

The hip-hop trio are equally at home discussing depression and suicide as they are the slow demise of the Brooklyn neighbourhood they are named after

Sat in Sweet Chick, a chicken and waffles joint on the corner of Flatbush Avenue in downtown Brooklyn, the rap trio Flatbush Zombies have arrived back home from a US tour to the New York City neighbourhood that inspires their ominous but vivid sound. From the outset, Meechy Darko, one of the group’s MCs, states clearly that they are not just the phantasmagoric “horror rappers” they are often framed as, and people can miss the very real stories the group are telling. “We have to get comfortable with talking about death when it happens to all of us,” he says. “What’s interesting is that people look at us funny for talking about death, but all the money, drugs and pussy talk in rap is accepted.”

Death is prominent throughout the group’s second album, Vacation in Hell, the follow-up to 2016’s debut 3001: A Laced Odyssey. “I woke up this morning and I asked myself: Is life worth living, should I blast myself? / And when I’m gone, would they remember? Only son of Deborah, born in late December,” Meechy raps on Trapped. Both he and Erick Arc Elliott write candidly about their experiences with suicidal thoughts, confronting the darkness that comes with being young, black and depressed. In 2013, local MC Capital Steez killed himself, a death that left Brooklyn’s rap community devastated. “When Steez passed, I realised that there’s a darkness that can follow any of us, and I’m never going to be the only one going through shit,” Erick says. “The only way for me to face my demons is to go into my consciousness and search through all of those uncomfortable thoughts,” adds Meechy.

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