3001: A Laced Odyssey
Intro: “The Glorious Dead” is back just in time for the spring season! It’s been three years since their last major work, Better off Dead, and the trio from Brooklyn lets fans rest easy with their debut album, 3001: A Laced Odyssey. Accompanied by the homage to the classic sci-fi mystery and a War of the Worlds like cover art by comic book artist David Nakayama, The Zombies make it very clear that they have a certain goal for the feel of their album. This goal is to elevate the listener's mind and taste to cosmic levels, which they ultimately accomplish by taking the listener on a smooth journey through space with a few dangerous detours.
The Odyssey: 5…4…3…2...1, this odyssey is initiated in the most appropriate way for a trip across the galaxy. The sound of the ship taking off, followed by production that can only be described as an ascent into the unknown, fills the listener with anticipation for the journey ahead while assuring them they are in good hands with Erick “The Architect” Elliot as their musical pilot. As the first lyrics spoken are those of past songs from Better off Dead, this song reminds fans why they love The Zombies. The blast from the past is followed by brand new verses from each member, which proves that the album's delay was not due to a decline of lyrical skill. Concluded with an especially grimy verse from Meechy Darko, this track is the perfect way to start off a trip through the minds of the self-proclaimed “un-dead” from Flatbush, Brooklyn.
R.I.P.C.D: With the grimiest song on tape, The Dead pay homage to old New York Hip Hop and the nearly extinct form of music distribution in “R.I.P.C.D.” All three Zombies spit hard, precise bars over a heavy “Boom Bap” beat that makes you feel like you are hearing a cypher on the streets of Brooklyn. Presented as a eulogy for the lost elements that made 90’s Hip Hop great, “R.I.P.C.D” holds up nicely.
A Spike Lee Joint: If there is one thing The Flatbush Zombies never fail to do, it is speak on their views of society. Racial and economic issues remain a constant in their music; and the fourth track on the album is their way of speaking on that once again. Entitled “A Spike Lee Joint,” this track follows in the footsteps of the iconic filmmaker by using an art form to portray a message. On top of the lyrical content provided by Erick and Juice, the production sounds like something out of Do the Right Thing.
Fly Away: “Fly Away” brings an interesting, almost paradise lost concept to the album. As one of the solo songs from Meechy Darko, it sets itself apart from his other evil influenced rhymes on the album. “Fleezus Christ” does this by speaking from the perspective of Lucifer as a fallen angel who is conflicted by his fate instead of the personification of evil bent on destruction and chaos.
Ascension: Concluding the Darko song block, “Ascension” is more of what fans expect from the aggressive MC.
“I’m cold brah, venomous cobra,
Clutch on my weapon raise from waist to shoulder
Level you looking disheveled I’m on a new level
The Devil conducts all his tests in the ghetto”
Filled with intensity and vibrancy, Meechy delivers a verse that proves the last song is no indication that he will hold back his trademark aggressive style for the remainder of the album. The track ends with a smooth drum medley that gives listeners a chance to recover from the jolt of energy they just received.
Smoke Break (Interlude): “Smoke Break” is exactly that. This Erick and Juice duet serves as a great middle transition point in this album. This track truly floats you through to the second half of this musical journey.
Trade-Off: The Flatbush Zombies are a unique group in the rap game today. They work so well together because they all have very distinct personalities that allow each of them to bring something different to a song. Erick and Meechy have played off these differences before in the song “Red Light, Green Light,” but for Laced Odyssey they decided to complete the trio in the track “Trade-Off.” The track not only gives each member their own hook, but also their own personal spin on Erick’s original beat. The song’s content is very similar to “Red Light, Green Light,” which is about the different paths taken to gain wealth. Erick, Juice, and Meech respectively progress to more drastic ways of paper chasin’ between each verse.
Good Grief (feat. Diamante): Erick “The Architect” Elliot is a very vital part of the Zombies team. While he is one of the group's talented lyricists, he is also the equally talented producer. All of the production is the work of the Architect, and he has proven that he spends a lot of time crafting his beats. The amount of motivation it takes to not only write 10 verses, but also produce 12 songs is something to applaud. “Good Grief” is exactly about that level of commitment it takes to do all of this independently. Adding to the Erick and Juice collaborations, the song has a smooth beat to bounce your head to. Topped off by an outro sung by the beautiful Diamante, “Good Grief” is classic Architect track to the very end.
New Phone, Who Dis?: Not unlike many artists such as The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, and Chance the Rapper, The “Glorious Dead” have made their marijuana and psychedelic use very known to the public throughout their career. Many of their songs include references to said substances; however, “New Phone, Who Dis?” is the first time they speak through the perspective of the dealer. This song is meant to be for all of the people hustling through illegal manners, which is very common where they are from. The song features verses from each member, including an especially long verse from Darko.
This Is It: This song is the second single off the album and was released as a small taste just hours before the release of the album. “This Is It” focuses on the lack of individualism in a lot of Hip Hop while mocking the commonly overused flow that many rappers use today. The Zombies also express the importance of keeping your identity not only as an artist, but also as a person. Many artists of the 1960’s sang about society being full of clones who follow the unwritten guidelines set by society; The Flatbush Zombies use this song to pay their respects to those artists as well as their message. Although this is not the last song on the album, this is where their “Odyssey” ends.
Your Favorite Rap Song: With “This Is It” being the official end of the “Odyssey,” fans approach the last song of the album with confusion. Luckily, the narrator provides some explanation by saying “This odyssey is complete, now are you ready for some fuckin bars?” This statement could not be truer for the final song, “Your Favorite Rap Song.” This 13 minute song is clearly made for the fans who waited 3 years for this album. The Zombies give fans a 7 minute cypher full of clever wordplay and metaphors before finishing the album with 6 minutes of messages left to them by fans (and a few haters). Being an independent group, the Zombies rely a lot on fan support to survive and this last piece is dedicated to those fans.
Final Thoughts: While adding a slightly new flavor to the collective, this album has some familiar Flatbush elements all throughout. It is chocked full of great verses and memorable hooks that will keep you entertained throughout the whole piece of work. As one of the fans who have been waiting 3 years for 3001: A Laced Odyssey, I can honestly say it was well worth the wait.