Flatbush Zombies are Back Musically, Socially Active 'now, more than ever'
Evan Dale // June 9, 2020
For perhaps the first time in their history, Flatbush Zombies are joining the ranks – are comparable – to their fellow musicians – at least the ones also taking a legitimate stand in the ongoing fight for civil liberties. Where for a decade, the New York trio have succeeded in redefining everything about hip-hop from its sound, to its energy, to its look, and its brash independent root – standing out as risqué, experimentalist, avant-garde artistes – Flatbush Zombies are now standing on equal ground with all those also risking everything they’ve built creatively for the very word equal itself. They’ve been artistically revolutionary from the get-go, so their abundant support and strength to socially empower the Black Lives Matter movement with ferocity is nothing if not an equivocal evolution of their own socio-artistic positioning. Longstanding purveyors of independent artistry, of black culture, and of the need for a grandiose coalescence between the two identifiers, their newest EP is a confluence of their passionate resonance.
now, more than ever is as aptly titled as it is necessary for not one historic moment, but for two. When Flatbush Zombies began the creative process of putting it all together, they found themselves, like almost everyone on the planet, quarantined, trying to plan a next move. Naturally, now, more than ever was originally rooted in a time of what seemed like unparalleled contemporary significance. But, by the time the EP neared a release, its original motive paled in comparison to the one that had been exploding in the limelight for a week; existing in their own lives since the beginning of their paths.
‘we decided to release this ep a few months ago to get our fans through a pandemic. in the past week the pandemic has turned into a battle. this music was made for you. it was released with you in mind. use it to start an evolution.’
Like all of their music to come before it, now, more than ever is perhaps even better suited to soundtrack a revolution. Flatbush Zombies’ three members, Erick, Juice & Meech have built their creative expanses on the elements of emotion. And though the same can be said about nearly all music throughout history, one listen to any Flatbush Zombies record puts into focus exactly what makes their music a special kind of emotionally rooted energy that most artists throughout music as a whole or even throughout hip-hop specifically could never hope to parallel. They bring it, and they’ve never stumbled in keeping their momentum of bringing it alive.
For those who haven’t heard their music before, consider other violently experimental hip-hop modernists whose aesthetics feel born of equal parts metal, electronica, hip-hop, and social revolutions of the same artistic energy as the stylistic delineations listed; think of Run the Jewels, JPEGMAFIA, Denzel Curry; think of Deltron & Doom. And then, you might be prepared for what’s to come.
Flatbush Zombies do not make understated, chill hip-hop music. On the contrary, their music has long inspired a not so subtle feeling of chaos, intensity, and violence. And now, more than ever their music meets the moment.
There exists a tangible amalgamation between the fields of funky psychedelia and passionate intensity in every track on the EP, some leaning more towards the melodic experimentalism of their futurist sound (quicksand is a downtrodden exaltation of feels) while others adhere more to the ever-presence of their high-energy rap predecessors (herb feels like a modern twist on Bone Thugs-N-Harmony). But no matter the direction of a given track, Flatbush Zombies attack each addition to now, more than ever with a feeling of transcendent stylistic meandering. Each track is built as a multi-part composition that goes far beyond simply putting on display the range of their cohesive effort; instead, also displaying the range that each member hones to himself. Trading verses, melodies, and hooks on iamlegend, Flatbush Zombies emerge with a track that refuses to be labeled or boxed in by any genre or emotion. And the same can be said to legitimate extent to the rest of the project.
With dirty elevator music, blessings, & when i’m gone the EP enters a sort of B-Side, where even given the unavoidable energy that defines Flatbush Zombies and their overarching canon, the trio dip into a more down-tempo, more downtroddenly emotive tone. With the influence of Chris McClenney on production – an instrumentally driven transcendentalist whose sound straddles preconceptions of folk, alt rock, indie, and neo-soul – the new direction, with an underlying desire to drive the album towards emotions tied to struggle and overcoming, succeeds in its goal and in its ability to shine Flatbush Zombies under a new light.
In union with the three more up-tempo, signature tracks at its opening, now, more than ever is a well-rounded EP musically, emotionally, and thematically – probably the most well-rounded of their career. And with the range of musicality and emotion that exists through its course, now, more than ever is perhaps the most applicable, honest delivery rooted in both the pandemic, and more importantly, the fight for Civil Rights at this moment in history.
Use it to stir emotion, to soundtrack societal stances, and to instigate change. And support Flatbush Zombies beyond only the listen. Look into their new line of merch where 100% of the proceeds go to organizations fighting on the front lines for Black Lives Matter.