Erick the Architect Knows the Path Forward Shouldn’t Take You From Who You Are

Image via J.O. Applegate
Image via J.O. Applegate

The EP gets its name from a line in a song about how when the music you’re making comes from your soul, you’re “future proof.” But creatively, using the pieces of his life as raw material for the music presented a riddle: “Taking a concept that may have taken hours and hours or days or years, how can you put that in this two-and-a-half-minute song?” Evolving from primarily working with samples to writing original music on pianos and guitars has provided a set of tools to help with the process. It also speaks to his vision for the future: “I always saw myself as being multifaceted, and it wasn’t enough for me to just know and find dope samples. I wanted to be sample-able. I want people to listen to my stuff one day and send me an email, asking me to approve using a sample.”

He rattled off a partial list of artists he considers to be major influences (Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, and Miles Davis), and while none of them are closely associated with hip-hop, there is a common thread in that they all revolutionized their respective genres. “Sometimes music is not about how much you want it, it’s about making the right decisions and always doing what you want,” he said. “It’s your own individual understanding of what it means to be successful.”

Image via J.O. Applegate

When I asked him whether he feels pressured to lean into some of the common hip-hop tropes, like chasing women or bragging about luxury goods, he was quick to give me a firm no, before recounting sitting in on a writing camp with other big names in the genre. “There was so much of the same shit, how can my shit be good? How could you think mine is good when people like the same thing over and over again?” he asked. “It made me feel, for a split second, Like do I just… no. I’m not going to do that, dude. Because the albums that inspired me are eclectic as hell, man. That shit didn’t fit in. And we’re still here talking about them.”

There is an underlying faith in the way he stays true to himself. “I have instances and thoughts of giving up or changing, but you have to remind yourself that who you are is probably why you’re still kicking around,” he said. “Once you change that, you might eliminate yourself from the music industry.”

He reveres artists that have broken out of their initial genre. “There may just be a judgment that someone has on a whole entire genre, which is silly, but people do say I don’t like this kind of music. So once you take it out of the genre that it is and put it somewhere else, it gives that opportunity for somebody to give it a second chance,” he said. “That’s what I thrive off of.”

Image via Erick the Architect

With that in mind, deliberate, nuanced shifts in composition came up a few times in our conversation. Erick loves to draw inspiration from movies, specifically how time can be distorted for effect. “In a slasher movie, they would just come up and hit you with a machete,” he said. But a director he admires, like Quentin Tarantino, would treat the scene differently. “He’d raise his hand up, before it comes down with the machete, they’d show shots of everyone’s face. That shot that would have taken two seconds is now strung out to three minutes.”

From there, you can draw a line from admiring subtleties in film directly to Erick talking about how he uses music theory while composing: “There is something special about dictating what genre a song is after the melody is established,” he explains. “Even if you don’t know music, when I play a certain chord, you know that this song is about happiness or triumph and this other song is about sadness. I think that the genre that a song lives in is determined by the drums. They actually make the song.”

Sifting through the details and figuring out how to take hold of them to build his own lane got Erick to where he is today. He knows who he is and remains true to himself. And that’s true of his pursuits outside of music too. 

Before the end of our call, he mentions one other pandemic lockdown hobby that he picked up: scouring the internet to buy the things he missed out on when he was younger. “All the things that I wanted to have as a kid that I could never afford, whether it’s toys or video games, I tried to go back and tap into my imagination when I first started to fall in love with these things,” Erick says. Because sometimes following your own path means glancing back, and stopping to play for a bit before you move forward once again.


RZA And Flatbush Zombies Spin Cinematic Rhymes On ‘Quentin Tarantino’

Last week, two New York fixtures came together at last on RZA and Flatbush Zombies’ “Plug Addicts.” The video took a page out of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, with RZA’s beat on the track hearkening back to an important project in his career. “I’ve had my eyes on the Flatbush Zombies for sometime now,” RZA said in a statement last week. “Their style of dark hip-hop lyricism is reminiscent of my days in the Gravediggaz. This type of collaboration was overdue.”

Today, they’ve doubled-down with the as-promised track entitled “Quentin Tarantino” and it’s an overt homage to the iconic director. The track is a vintage RZA production that sounds like it could’ve come out of the Jackie Brown soundtrack. Flatbush Zombies Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice, and Erick “Arc” The Architect carry the torch on the mic on this one, with Arc’s flow packing in a slew of Tarantino films:

“They killin’ us all, but we endure, Reservoir Dog
I’m Mr. Orange, so since we sparrin’, I put my all in
Your whip be stallin’, unchained, unhandled, Django is dormant
They pat me down, nigga you don’t know? You better ask around
It’s been half an hour, blast the sound, where’s Jackie Brown?”

The video has nods to Kill Bill and heavy Pulp Fiction vibes, with the Zombies driving around in the same style of Chevy Nova that Jules and Vincent Vega drove in the film. There’s even a briefcase motif and RZA punctuating the hook asking about the age-old Tarantino film geek mystery: “What the f*ck’s up in that briefcase?”

Watch the video for “Quentin Tarantino” above.

RZA And Flatbush Zombies Link Up On The Tarantino-Inspired ‘Plug Addicts’ Video

“I’ve had my eyes on the Flatbush Zombies for sometime now,” RZA said in a statement. And when the RZA speaks, people listen. It’s hard to believe that the Brooklyn crew and the Staten Island producer had never linked in the past, given how Flatbush Zombies’ penchant for the macabre seems so aligned with RZA’s cinematic aesthetic. But now here they are, two NYC entities born in different eras, at the start of a new collaborative arc.

In the new “Plug Addicts” clip, the “glorious dead” Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice, Erick Arc Elliott, and The RZA are all dressed like Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs as they take turns dropping a verse. The video is sinister to say the least, and even culminates with RZA’s slasher re-enactment of Michael Madsen’s Mr. Blonde torture scene from the movie. They all play off of each other fluidly on the mic and the production sounds eerily similar to a certain project from the past. “Their style of dark hip hop lyricism is reminiscent of my days in the Gravediggaz,” RZA remarked about the Zombies. “This type of collaboration was overdue,”.

This is the first of their two singles, with another called “Quentin Tarantino” due on December 17th. Flatbush Zombies’ Eric Arc Elliott added some words on the collab:

“In a lot of ways I saw RZA in myself, as a fellow producer/artist. We are making history together at this very moment. The music he’s made over the course of his career had a lot to do with why I wanted to make music in the first place, it’s beautiful to see these things come full circle.”

Watch the video for “Plug Addicts” above and be on the lookout for “Quentin Tarantino” next week.

Flatbush Zombies Will Continue The Celebration Of Their Debut Album With An Upcoming Graphic Novel

Flatbush Zombies are in celebration mode this year. Aside from getting through the bulk of a global pandemic safely, this year also marks the fifth anniversary of their debut album, 3001: A Laced Odyssey. Last month, the group revealed awesome action figures of the three members — Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice, and Erick The Architect — that were made in collaboration with Incenidum. After being turned into five-inch figures the group has announced another way they plan on celebrating 3001: A Laced Odyssey, this time through a graphic novel.

The group hopped on Instagram to announce their 3001: A Prequel Odyssey novel. “YOU THOUGHT WE WERE DONE CELEBRATING THE 5 YEAR ANNIVERSARY?” they wrote. “THE GLORIOUS DEAD PRESENT TO YOU: 3001: A PREQUEL ODYSSEY. WHEN DARK FORCES INVADE FLATBUSH TO UNLEASH A NIGHTMARE ENTITY – ONLY ONE GROUP STANDS IN THEIR WAY.” They go onto reveal that the novel is written by Genius’ Rob Markman and features art from JJ Lopez and David Nakayama.

The novel is priced at $99.99 and is expected to be released at some point in October 2021. Consumers have the option to buy a basic softcover or hardcover edition, but they can level up to a packaged deluxe edition, limited to just 2,500 copies. This comes with an oversized hardcover deluxe edition graphic novel, graphic novel slipcase, three exclusive art prints, and a mystery fan token. There’s also a super deluxe edition — limited to just 500 copies — that comes with a limited edition Now, More Than Ever EP on vinyl, one limited edition trading card, and three framed exclusive art prints in addition to the oversized hardcover deluxe edition graphic novel and a graphic novel slipcase.

You can read the announcement from Flatbush Zombies in the post above.

The 3001: A Prequel Odyssey novel is out October 2021. Pre-order it here.

Flatbush Zombies is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

Spillage Village’s ‘Baptized’ Remix Adds Fiery Verses From Deante’ Hitchcock, IDK, And Flatbush Zombies

Atlanta rap supergroup Spillage Village had one of the best albums of 2020 in Spilligion, and today, they took a huge step in extending its shelf life, releasing a remixed version of the album’s second single “Baptize.” The new version adds a who’s-who of the group members’ favorite collaborators, including Deante’ Hitchcock, who contributes the verse from his #NewAtlantaTuesdays freestyle over the beat, IDK, and Flatbush Zombies to turn the introspective track into a full-blown posse cut of cerebral rhymes and complex cadences. Group member Hollywood JB also makes an appearance to help keep the Spillage crew’s presence strong.

While the original version of the song focuses heavily on religious imagery as a lens through which to make sense of the global turmoil at the time of the album’s creation, the new version mostly does away with the framing devices, allowing the guest rappers to right down to the nitty-gritty. While Hitchcock spits socio-political commentary, IDK boasts of his off-season accomplishments and wonders if he should forego meetings with Netflix to work with HBO. Juice and Erick of Flatbush Zombies bat cleanup, preaching self-reliance and optimism to cope with the issues plaguing the world.

Listen to Spillage Village’s “Baptized” remix featuring Deante Hitchcock’, IDK, and Flatbush Zombies above.

Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

Flatbush Zombies Release A Cool Set Of Action Figures Commemorating Their Debut Album

It’s usually pretty cool when a rap act gets a collectible that isn’t just the standard T-shirt, vinyl, or non-fungible token version of their sex tape. For instance, there are a lot of nice vinyl toys out there for legends of rap like The Notorious BIG or Run-DMC, and some newer rappers have even gotten in on the action, like Rico Nasty. The latest act to commemorate a musical moment with a piece of beautifully-molded plastic is Flatbush Zombies, who teamed up with Incendium to offer a pack of frankly awesome action figures celebrating the fifth anniversary of their debut album.

The set interprets the trio as five-inch figures with 10 points of articulation and personalized accessories based on the David Nakayama-designed cover of 3001: A Laced Odyssey. Only 3,001 of each figure has been made, ensuring their collector’s item status someday down the road — without a password or undue negative impact on the environment, no less. Yes, that was another shot at NFTs because I think you’re all nuts for spending millions of dollars on computer code.

Incendium CEO Llexi Leon credits the project to Flatbush Zombies’ “incredible aesthetic,” and calls it “a blast to revisit David Nakayama’s incredible artwork to their debut album and bring the trio straight off the page for our latest release.”

You can check out the set here.