The RX is Uproxx Music’s stamp of approval for the best albums, songs, and music stories throughout the year. Inclusion in this category is the highest distinction we can bestow, and signals the most important music being released throughout the year. The RX is the music you need, right now.
New York City has had a near-constant referendum on the state of the city’s hip-hop scene for over a decade now. From artists to radio personalities to fans, the birthplace of hip-hop still isn’t sure if it’s having an identity crisis or a mere sonic evolution. There’s a timeless tug of war ongoing with fans who champion artists like Cardi B, A$AP Rocky and Nicki Minaj as the new wave, and others who criticize those artists as “too Atlanta (or Houston)” and uphold the golden era’s rap stalwarts as the standard.
The Flatbush Zombies are eight projects deep and haven’t yet released a project that’s seemed preoccupied with pleasing either extreme of that schism. Perhaps that’s because they realized early that they “hate anything that sounds like anybody else’s music,” as group producer Erick The Architect told DJ Booth. While fans fixate on what New York is “supposed to sound like,” the Flatbush, Brooklyn-based trio has been focused on what they want to sound like. They’re gradually developing a cult following and a strong catalog — which just received a masterful addition.
The 19-song tracklist for their Vacation In Hell album could seem daunting, especially after Migos, threw down a gauntlet onto the streaming services with the 24-track Culture 2. Whereas Migos and other artists are faltering though with bloated, 808-dominated projects that eventually drag a listener down into trap purgatory, this Vacation In Hell is full of varying sonic approaches — and it’s all flames.
The album’s dynamism can primarily be credited to Elliott, the underrated soundscapist who gives the group an in-house production virtuoso. He produced 15 of the album’s 19 track and probably had a hand in its expert sequencing. The album is seemingly divided into three acts, going from uptempo to slower paced burners like “Reel Girls,” into more soulful production like the earnest A$AP Yams tribute “YouAreMySunshine.”