Hip Hop is ingrained in the DNA of New York. The state thrives off the collaborative spirit the genre relishes; Wu Tang, Beastie Boys and A Tribe Called Quest all paved the way for American rap groups to flourish on the international stage, but the 21st century belongs to collectives like Beast Coast and A$AP Mob. The supergroup in question is made up of: Pro Era (Joey Bada$$, Kirk Knight, CJ Fly, Nyck Caution, Powers Pleasant), Flatbush Zombies (Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice, Erick the Architect), and The Underachievers (Issa Gold and AK the Savior), they all embody the spirit of Brooklyn, favouring eloquent lyricism to new trends like mumble rap.
As the group’s have progressed through their careers, they’ve diverted from revivalism; Erick The Architect’s production has made Flatbush heavier, far more trappy than their earlier work, whilst Joey Bada$$ has become more commercial since the days of ‘1999’. The sonics coming from ‘Escape From New York’ though, is like nothing any of the artists have ever made; Beast Coast have established such a distinct sound on this record, one that hasn’t been heard in Brooklyn before. ‘Far Away’ is a mellow, psychedelic ode to love; Nyck Caution delivers a particularly emotive verse admitting “I'm suicidal when I'm not in your presence” with a very sincere tone, one that compliments the catchy chorus sung by Kirk Knight.
Lead single Left Hand sees a completely different creative direction to Far Away though, adding a level of diversity that can be expected from such an eclectic mix of artists. The chemistry displayed between Meechy, Caution, Bada$$ and Zombie Juice is so infectious, by the last chorus you’re vibing along with the group, chanting the contagious chorus laid out by the Brooklyn boys. ‘Snow In The Stadium’ draws on heavy influence from genres like reggae, the bassline is effortlessly groovy, devising a rhythm that isn’t often heard on a record from New York.
On occasions, the record feels overly saturated with verses from different rappers. On ‘Problemz’, it takes the work of 6 members to justify the ‘Problemz’ Beast Coast has with the current state of rap, it therefore becomes hard to fully engage with the lyricism and get into the track. CJ Fly does sound amazingly like Kid Cudi on this one though, his refrain helps to revive the song to an extent.
The second half of the album offers some highlights despite the dense tracklist. Bones is an exceptional song, glitching between trap tendencies and raging, militeral flows from the respective artists; A JPEGMAFIA feature here would have achieved perfection. Single ‘Coast/Clear’ is an absolute bop too, Kirk Knight sounds surprisingly good in autotune; his chorus delivery is slick, and incredibly punctual.
It is an impressive first body of work from New York’s new supergroup, one that has evidently helped each individual to develop as an artist. Hopefully a tour of Europe is imminent, some of these songs are made to be performed live.