Flatbush Zombies - Better Off Dead (Review)

Flatbush Zombies - Better Off Dead

"Better Off Dead" is the latest mixtape from hip-hop group Flatbush Zombies, which consists of emcees Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice and emcee/producer Erick Arc Elliot. The mixtape features guest appearances from Action Bronson and Danny Brown as well as production from Harry Fraud and Obey City, but mostly all of the production is handled by Erick Elliot himself. It was released on September 11, 2013 as a free download from pretty much any mixtape site out there.

1) Amerikkkan Pie - The first song on the mixtape has a hard ass instrumental with a haunting vocal sample and eerie synths over energetic drums. The beat is banging and the lyrics are potent, as Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice and Erick Arc Elliott all come through and spit some socially conscious raps about racism and about the general bullshit that goes on in America. The lyrics have substance and go to show that the Flatbush Zombies can do more than just dark drug raps. Very dope way to kick off the mixtape.

2) Nephilim - The beat on this track has an almost angelic vocal sample over plodding drums that give it a little less energy than the previous instrumental. Despite the somewhat ethereal sample, this shit is still dark as hell. Both Meechy Darko and Zombie Juice come through and rip it, but Meechy has the standout verse for me as he spits
"Why I feel like the past is catching up to my ass?
The devil on each shoulder, no halo's on my staff
Your medulla may implode when I spit this venom in code
When I spit this venomous flow, mind bending entity, oh
My soul glowing it's gold, my heart's dark and it's cold
My art's a part of my soul, I can't help but give yall the most
Can't help but be niggas hope, can't help but rise through the smoke"
Very dope.

3) Bliss - This song has another powerful instrumental with some hard-hitting drums and a smooth backing sample that should get your head-nodding a bit. Lyrically all three emcees come correct and spit some venomous rhymes saying "fuck you" to basically anything and everything that comes their way. This song is crazy.

4) Minephuck - Erick Arc Elliott comes through with another energetic instrumental that samples the song "Preludio" by Luis Enriquez Bacalov and Osanna from the "Milano Calibro 9" soundtrack. The beat is dope and Zombie Juice goes solo over it, rapping about everything from drugs to women to crooked cops in his smooth, yet rapid-fire flow. Very nice.

5) G Tearz - The beat on this track has a sprinkle of piano keys and a soft vocal loop over hard snare drums. The beat is pretty ill and both Zombie Juice and Erick Arc Elliott do their thing while Meechy just provides the chorus. This is good, but not my favorite on here.

6) Death - This song has an old school Gravediggaz/Flatlinerz vibe to it with a sinister vocal sample over hard boom-bap drums. Once again all three emcees come through and rip it while asking "what ya gonna do when them zombies come for you?" Flatbush Zombies are at their best when they are on that dark shit in my opinion. Anyways, this track is a banger.

7) Death 2 - Continuing the "death" theme from the previous track, this song features another darker instrumental for Meechy to go solo over. The beat is dope and Meechy rips it, spitting bars full of violence and brutality as he incorporates the names of a bunch of famous serial killers into his rhymes. Dope shit.

8) Regular and Complex (GNB) - Erick Arc Elliott is really impressing me with the instrumentals on this mixtape and the beat on this track is one of my favorites so far. While not as dark as some of the others, the beat has a smooth feel to it with a somewhat distorted sample and atmospheric layered synth strings over boom-bap drums. As expected everyone sounds great over it, rapping about their love for hip-hop among other things. Meechy closes out the song nicely
"If rap was illegal you bitch niggas wouldn't even write a bar
Shit, I'd probably be behind bars
Raising the bar through these bars
I am at the bar, taking shots of Henny telling the bartender about all of my flaws
I'm in love with hip-hop not from the allure
I am sure, every single dog is a day on the cross
No labels telling me fables, bitch, I am my own boss"
This shit is fire.

9) Thugnificense - This song has a melodic and textured backing sample over some slower drums that give the song a laid-back, hazy feel. Zombie Juice goes solo over the beat, kicking some rhymes about drugs as well as his love for hip-hop
"I'm in love with the mic, engulfed in the life
All these wack ass rappers spitting all for the ice
Money can't buy swag, funny nigga you a dummy"
This is pretty good, but not my favorite on here.

10) Club Soda (featuring Action Bronson) - The instrumental on this song is crazy, with a cinematic sample in the background and some hi-pitched synths blended in over more head-nodding drums. Zombie Juice and Erick Arc Elliott trade off verses for the first four rounds before Meechy and guest Action Bronson come in and shut it down. Everyone sounds good on here, but Bronson sounds a little sleepy. Still, I'm feelin' this shit.

11) LiveFromHell - Harry Fraud comes through with a energetic instrumental that has some heavy guitars over rapid-fire hi-hats and deep bass drums. The beat is classic Harry Fraud and both Meech and Juice body it, kicking some violent rhymes and wishing death upon those who don't like their music.
"You say you want the highest, well I am him
No such thing as a loss, so I reap on his grin
The demons bleed through the pen
The canvas drips from the sin
I mind bend, spit shit to make a manikin cringe"
Another fire track.

12) Palm Trees - This was the second single released in promotion of the mixtape and it's pretty ill for a weed track. The beat has a real laid-back, breezy feel to it that meshes nicely with the drug-heavy lyrics. It's not my favorite song on here, but it's still really good.

13) 222 - This song is an Erick Elliot solo and it's ok. The beat is real mellow and has a soft piano loop and a hi-pitched rolling snare that sounds pretty good. Erick does his thing and the singing on the chorus is nice, but this song is not a standout for me.

14) Drug Parade (featuring Danny Brown) - You can tell what this song is going to be about simply from the title of it and the fact that Danny Brown is on here. The beat is much darker than the previous few, with an ominous vocal sample layered over energetic drums. Meechy and Danny Brown both come through and spit more drug-heavy raps, but I'm not really feelin' Danny Brown's performance on here. If his verse was cut out or if Zombie Juice had a verse than I might have liked it more. Oh well.

15) TP4 - Obey City comes through with another menacing instrumental, this time with some ambient keyboards, spaced-out synths and hard drums. Meechy Darko goes solo over the beat and kicks some sex rhymes and such. Not bad, but not the best on here.

16) God Blessed the Dead - This song is also a Meechy solo track and he absolutely bodies it. The beat has some desolate keyboards and laid-back drums that mesh perfectly with his raspy voice and aggressive flow.
"If you don't like the way i live my life, why don't you take it?
In all my past lives I've laughed in my killers faces
I'm into blood, beef, human mutilation
Extended clips squeeze, let it disintegrate'em
I'm from a place where Hell is considered a safe haven
Since its the root of all evil, we thank Satan for this paper"
Very dope.

17) MRAZ - This song was one of the singles released in promotion of the mixtape and its definitely a banger. The beat is really ill, especially when it switches up to include some classic hip-hop breaks to match up with the lyrics at that point in the song. All three emcees come through and just murder the track. This is one of my favorites on here.

18) My Team, Supreme - Erick Arc Elliot is definitely showing off his production skills on this mixtape. Mostly every beat so far has been fire and this one is no exception. The ominous piano loop and head-nodding drums are the perfect backdrop for Meechy and Erick himself to kick some boastful rhymes about their mic skills over. Dope shit.

19) The Results Are In - The final song on the mixtape has another dark instrumental with a soft vocal loop and prominent drums. The beat is dope and all three emcees rip it, but I think Zombie Juice spits the hardest when he raps
"Metaphysics, religious scripture, read the picture
Participating, hate the negative, we'll get ya
Look inside your soul, meet your maker
I suppose, in Jamaica blowing O's
Cali niggas cutthroat"
Nice way to close out the mixtape.

I'm going to rate the mixtape

4 / 5

because its really dope. Erick Arc Elliot really comes through on almost every beat on here while guests Harry Fraud and Obey City handle the others. Mostly all of the instrumentals have a real dark feel to them, which meshes perfectly with the aggressive lyrics and flows of all three emcees. Lyrically, Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice and Erick Arc Elliot come correct on pretty much every song, with Meechy's raspy voice and rugged flow contrasting nicely with the higher pitched and faster flows of both Juice and Erick. This shit is really dope and is easily one of the better mixtapes of the year so far. Download it for free over at HotNewHipHop or via any other mixtape site.


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