On September 20th, 2017, Meechy Darko of Flatbush Zombies posted a photo of him dancing on stage with the caption “When ya credit good, ya next album on the way & you 110% sure you are not the father.” This was an exciting moment for Zombies fans because most were happy to hear the Zombies had new music since the groups major label debut in 2016. However, it wouldn’t be until more than a year later that the group would release the new album: Vacation in Hell.
Vacation in Hell, as a result, headed towards high expectations. Admittedly, seeing the sheer length (19 tracks, 1 hour and 17 minutes) was both overwhelming and cause for anxiety. Would all those tracks live up to the hype? The short answer: kind of.
The features are a huge selling point for this record. While you have many of the usual suspects (Joey Bada$$, Nyck Caution, A$AP Twelvy), the Zombies include some more refreshing presences (Portugal. The Man, Denzel Curry, Dia) as well as some heavy figures (Bun B and Jadakiss.) Undeniably, almost all of these features are a success. Portugal. The Man and Dia both provide excellent vocal performances on their respective contributions. Denzel Curry’s verse on “The Glory” is a highlight on both the track and the record; he makes one of the best tracks on the album even better. Jadakiss, as well, is in rare form on “Facts,” his husky bars complimenting the general attitude of the song. Joey Bada$$, on the other hand, feels out of place on the smooth, nocturnal beat of “Vacation.” The verse simply feels too long, as do many of the Zombies own verses across this record.
As implied, the Zombies themselves do not have quite as a good an accuracy rate as their features. They have their hits, but as one progresses through the track list there are small pockets of mediocrity. There are a few exceptions to this which should be listed beforehand: “Headstone,” “U&I,” “Leather Symphony,” “Facts,” “The Glory,” and “M. Bison” to name a few. Those six tracks embody everything great about the Zombies aesthetic. The chemistry, energy, and lyrical acrobatics is all there.
While I loathe comparing the trio to Migos, they seem to fall into the same potholes that the latter group did on Culture 2. It becomes clear very quickly that Meech is the main presence and Zombie Juice and Erick, while incredibly talented in their own rights, serve to build up hype until Meech comes through and annihilates the track. This is where the pockets of mediocrity seem to stem. “Hell-O” is the best-case scenario, where we hear some solid verses from Juice and Erick only for them to take a back seat to savage Meech and “Chunky” is the worst-case scenario, where Meech’s eccentric presence overshadows his groupmates.
This aside, there are a great deal of shining moments on Vacation in Hell. “Trapped,” for instance, is a well-done introspective track shared between Meech and Erick. There is more balance on tracks like these where only one member plays in the background while two dominate the song. Also, while Meech’s presence can be overshadowing, this does not change the fact that his verses are the most consistently well executed. Erick and Juice are hardly slouches, though, and we see proof of this in their off kilter flows, voice pitching, and lyrical dexterity across the project. All things said, Vacation in Hell is going to be well received by fans, but the layman might find it long or unbalanced.