Hip-hop groups are all about the dynamics. Probably more apparent than in any other genre, rap has always exceeded as a platform where verbose identities get voiced alongside shady anti-heroes, masterminds and deranged lyricists within the confines of some verses and a chorus. When Clash opens up conversation with Flatbush’s own trio of rap servants, it’s clear straight from the off who’s playing what roles. Brash and consciously unreserved, rappers Meechy Darko and Zombie Juice bark out answers whilst in-house producer/part-time rapper Erick Arc Elliott swoons in the background, pitching in thoughtful quotes when he seems fit. It’d be way too easy to compare the Flatbush Zombies to the diversity of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Rottweiler persona sewn up tight with the RZA’s masterful guise. If anything though, that totally disregards how they’re swerving in their own acid-driven, nightmare-deluged lane.
Read an excerpt from our interview with Flatbush Zombies below.
What was it like trying to find your feet in Flatbush?
ZJ: Growing up in Flatbush was hell! No, growing up in Flatbush was fun but when you don’t have a lot of money you have to hustle your way around town and follow that NY State Of Mind.
M: It’s like survival of the fittest. People don’t live here for long if they can’t eat. People move in and then they move out because it’s hard and you have to hustle.
How big a part did school play in you now making music?
ZJ: Me and Meech dropped out of high school, but Erick finished school. We didn’t notice that we dropped out of high school until about two years after. That’s when we actually realised ‘holy shit, we dropped out’.
M: I couldn’t fit with school. It was the system and shit. It didn’t work for me personally and the way that I think so I had to leave. It was like jail.
If school incarcerated you, was it music that eventually set you free?
M: Definitely. I was out of school and I wasn’t doing music back then but listening to music definitely helped me. I didn’t start making music until maybe two years after we left school. Erick was making music for years though.
E: I was doing it since I was about fifteen or sixteen, then about three years ago we became the group or whatever.
So, Erick, what or who influences your beatmaking style?
E: In general, I like art. Musical influences were a big part of my shit. George Clinton, Outkast…I listened to a bit everything.
ZJ: They got swag!
And you started out making beats on the MV8000?
E: How did you know that? Because I'm a wizard…
ZJ: Hey Grand Wizarrrddd!
E: That’s pretty good. Using a drum machine is so good. I thought it was really cool to follow in the footprints of people making music using them. Ones like the MPC, but I ended up selling it in the end and got into drum programming which I enjoyed a lot better in a weird way.
‘D.R.U.G.S’ genuinely sounds like it was a lot of fun to make…
M: It was the funniest thing I ever did in my life next to losing my virginity and taking acid.
What’s acid like? I've never tried it before.
ZJ: Altered perceptions, reality you question.
M: It’s literally a mind-altering drug. It’s literally what it is; I can’t really describe it for you because it’s different for everybody, but I can’t really say because it’s the hardest question.
This is an excerpt from the April 2013 issue of Clash magazine. Find out more about the issue.
Words: Errol Anderson
Photography: Kevin Amato