As hip-hop fans, we communally appreciate artists who box themselves out from the rest of the industry. Whether it's the half-joking, half-deadpan manner in which people appreciate the mythic Lil B, the indie-head, sample-junkie love of the exclusionary MF Doom, or the anti-mainstream style of somebody like Freddie Gibbs, the stranger and more secretive the artist is, the more hardcore hip-hop heads seem to appreciate their art. This same school of thought directly applies to Flatbush Zombies, the psilocybin-popping Brooklyn bad boys, consisting of emcees Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice, and emcee/producer Erick the Architect.

When Flatbush Zombies first caught any noteworthy attention, the year was 2011. On a track entitled 'Thug Waffle', Darko and Juice were pictured mid-trip, munching on massive stacks of Eggo waffles, "smoking a hundred blunts," hidden away in a Flatbush apartment. Juice then dropped a soon to be notorious one-liner: "Hip-hop is dead, Zombies for prez." It was a striking line, especially for the time. Fellow New York emcee A$AP Rocky had just dropped his debut mixtape, Live. Love. A$AP. to much critical acclaim. A$AP had put NYC back on the map — in regards to hip-hop — and the spotlight was soon smothering Rocky, leaving little room for another psychedelic-fueled batch of emcees from the same stomping ground. Zombies' moment soon dissipated, redirecting them to B-list emcees, loyal to their craft and their unique blend of psychedelia and old-school hip-hop tropes. Their moment that was once within their reach slipped, leaving Zombies with no choice but to head back to the studio and try again.

However, much has changed for Flatbush Zombies. After a few years of singles randomly dropping and mixtapes being tossed around here and there, their debut album was highly anticipated by a loyal and patient fanbase. Prayers were answered in 2016, when the trio dropped their debut studio album, 3001: A Laced Odyssey. The spaced-out theme they boasted was still very much apparent, but, critically speaking, it was a bit of a flop. One of those reasons it "flopped" could have been linked to the fact that Meechy Darko's voice was silenced, leaving too much time for Juice's voice to linger. In their 'Thug Waffle' days, emcee Zombie Juice was the assumed ringleader, his vocal delivery enticing and direct. Two studio albums later, and Juice's partner in crime, Meechy Darko, has single-handedly seized the spotlight, often bringing every track off of Vacation In Hell to another level the moment he steps in the booth. These moments are scattered throughout Vacation In Hell, Darko's grimey flow both punctual and neurotic. Darko's capability of maintaining his own sangfroid is what makes Vacation In Hell a true diamond in the rough.

But what really seems to make Vacation In Hell work so well is the Zombie's enlistment of some industry vets, including Bun B and Jadakiss, as well as a refreshing mixture of relatively young emcees, such as A$AP Twelvyy, Joey Bada$$, and Denzel Curry. This dichotomy of old and new seems to be the Zombies' forte. Whether it's their eye-rolling cognizance of the destruction of "true" hip-hop through mumble-rap horse shit, or their loyalty to purist hip-hop production, Vacation In Hell is a historical document of a few hustlers from Brooklyn, attempting to maintain the remnants of an industry that has become more commercial than nearly any other genre in modern musical history. Hip-hop is the new pop, with mumble-rap dominating the charts nationwide.

And while 3001: A Laced Odyssey perhaps suffered from a great absence of features, Vacation In Hell is comparatively loaded with them, and those are usually the finest moments of the album. Like 'The Glory', with a guest appearance from the always bizarre Denzel Curry, the Zombies' come prepared over a somewhat minimalist beat. Compared to the opening track, the somewhat menacing 'HELL-O', this dichotomy they embrace is in full force. But perhaps the most heart-wrenching moment on Vacation In Hell is 'You Are My Sunshine', a confession to the late tastemaker A$AP Yams. Emotions are shown, while spirituality, a common theme in Zombies' songs, are dismissed for the most part, often leaving behind the constant metaphysical discussions for things that are much more apparent and real.

Although Flatbush Zombies are indeed relative veterans at this point, Vacation In Hell sounds like their grand statement, the album that proves they are more than just a novelty rap-group, and instead a group of ride-or-die emcees, immersed so deeply in their own authenticity that it's hard to imagine a world without Flatbush Zombies’ presence always lurking. The end result is a clean, seriously impressive hour and seventeen minutes of restless, good old-fashioned hip-hop. Zombies' are here to stay, whether you like it or not.