Flatbush Zombies is one of the few truly effective rap groups out of recent time. I figure this is because of their skillsets. Erick is massively talented and his productions should be incredibly coveted. The architect crafted nearly every beat on this project, and their last (D.R.U.G.S.), and none of them fall short of awesome. Additionally you have L.S.Darko and Zombie Juice, who are both mostly technical spitters; but Juice is a bit more capricious and dynamic while Meech (another name for Darko) is really aggressive and conceptual. Additionally, they both have incredible delivery, and Erick also is pretty skilled in rapping, being more lyrical and introspective than technical. Since D.R.U.G.S. and their feature on Bath Salts, the Zombies have been wreaking havoc all over the rap game. Slaughtering all of their feature verses (i.e. “Mini Van Dan” “Just Blowing in the Wind”) and releasing great singles like “MRAZ” and “The Hangover”. This tape is a great continuation of their superiority.
D.R.U.G.S. was literally what it sounded like. A tape about drugs. Literally almost every single track was about narcotics, particularly weed. That project had a real semi-gothic, druggy, spatial vibe to it. BetterOffDEAD is a turn from that. In this one, the group is a bit more socially aware, evident from the get-go with “Amerikkan Pie”; and throughout the tape with “Palm Trees” and peeks in other tracks. On top of that, the Zombies seem more like these ruthless hippies from hell instead of these dark druggy guys, however there is a bit of ambiguity to their personalities, like their honoring of fellow BeastCoast member, Capital Steez. This sort of awareness is a nice change for the group and shows them progressing as artists. Other conceptual excellence is represented in songs like “Bliss” which seems like a rhetorically and boastfully invective and “ignant” song, but is in fact a philosophical look at society and how they react to the issues plaguing it.
As far as their rapping skill, it’s nothing for the Zombies. LiveFromHell literally sounds like the soundtrack to vicious rush of an army of demons escaping the gates of hell in a sick “rock-n-roll” type of fashion. Meech and Juice tag team on the drops in the beat with effortless teamwork. These dudes spit with such exciting rhythms that could hype you up on your worse day. Juice can alter his delivery to fit the song and the message so well, like with how aggressive he is on “Thugnificense”, but then how smooth swaggy he is on “Regular And Complex”. Meech just commands so much power with his voice on the track. He usually raps with an abrasive growl. Throughout this entire album they show you over and over and over again that they are incredible with their flow. Erick is also incredibly expressive in his lyrics like, “The first time I did drugs, it was making the beats”
BetterOffDEAD does run a little long though, at 19 songs and about an entire hour worth of music. If it was an album, it would’ve done better shaving off a few of the less impactful songs. That wouldn’t be an easy task, though as there really isn’t a single bad song on here. Additionally, each member of the group has their chance to have a song of their own.
I’d be making a book if I were to describe the good aspects of all the songs on this tape, but some of them need to be stated. Like I said 10000x before, the Zombies are just so thematically potent. “Drug Parade” sounds like some wild freaked out whimsical parade from the lyrics, the beat, the delivery, everything. The beat literally sounds like some ADHD, gothic, cartoony march through a ruined city. Specific examples is the “MORE FOR US!” ad-lib, and Danny Brown’s wacky singing. Bad aspect is Action Bronson’s awful verse in “Club Soda”. It’s the worst verse I’ve ever heard him spit. I can’t even listen to FBZ’s verses because as soon as I hear the beat, it reminds me about how bad Bronson’s verse was. I didn’t even think he could rap that bad. Joint was just uninspired, unergetic… he just didn’t care. I would’ve just cut his verse off the song.
Flatbush Zombies. BetteroffDEAD. They did it again. If you heard of these guys, but haven’t listened, do it now. This tape is arctic. I’m out.
My Favorites: “Regular and Complex” “God Blessed the DEAD”
Songs That Blew Me: “Club…. Soda” ………