IN CONVERSATION WITH MEECHY DARKO
Meechy Darko is an American rapper and songwriter, best known as one third of Brooklyn’s critically acclaimed hip hop group ‘Flatbush Zombies’. This August he released his debut solo album ‘Gothic Luxury’. Stepping out of his comfort zone to create this extremely personal debut, it results in an album that includes drawn-out piano intros and laid-back funk melding with dark mini-symphonies There’s a through line of brutal honesty and catharsis that continues to find Meechy Darko among the rawest and most candid rappers in the game.
Your solo debut album is called ‘Gothic Luxury’. What inspired the name and how does the sound of the album align with the title?
Life inspired the name. It is essentially just trying to make the best out of an uncomfortable situation. I was also highly inspired by gothic architecture and a lot of times people ask “What were you listening to when you made an album?’ ” Honestly, I wasn’t really listening to a lot. I was just reading a lot of stuff and looking at photos of buildings and the history of architecture brutalism and stuff. So, that’s kind of what it is. It’s like a brutalist album in a strange way. But my version of it is inspired by life originally and ‘Gothic Luxury’ was the term I used kind of as a vibe, just the mood. That was gonna be the theme of the album at first, but then it just became a living thing formed into something of my own.
What were some of your favorite experiences during making the album?
One of my favorite moments is when I got this house that I rented for a little bit in Los Angeles and I got a whole bunch of people to come and work on music. Me and Dr. Genius, Parker, Hector and a few other people we work with, we all just stayed together in the house for like a week, woke up every day, had breakfast with each other, just made music all day long. I like to really make music like that, I like to lock in. I’m not the biggest fan of just popping in and popping out, it’s better to build something with somebody, but that was a good experience. Joey Bada$$ pulled up. Denzel Curry pulled up a few times.
You were first a member of ‘Flatbush Zombies’. How was your experience of making music separately from them like?
It’s a lot more responsibility that you didn’t really think about. When you’re in a group, especially being in a group with my brothers, these are people that I’ve known my whole life, it wasn’t a group that someone else made or labeled and put us together, we put ourselves together. I got to write every verse now. It gives you a different chance to be a little bit freer. But I’ll go all around and I’ll be too free and make a lot of different types of sounds and go all over the place. So one thing that the group did teach me is how to be a little bit more grounded with my ideas. Because when I’m alone I’m kind of like a wild beast and I’ll go wherever I need to go.
Some of your songs, like you mentioned, feature artists like Freddie Gibbs, A-Trak, Denzel Curry and more. Could you share with us as well, what it was like to collaborate with them?
First of all, shout out to A-Trak. He has been a supporter of Zombies, been a fan of ours for years. I don’t just work with people for no reason. I like to really work with people I have respect and admiration for and love them. It’s not really about how big you are and all that, but for my first album I wanted to make sure I had somebody like A-Trak on there because like I said, he’s part of my story. Whether people really know it or not, he’s part of Flatbush Zombies’ story because he helped us, especially in the beginning, with a lot of shows in New York when he did the ‘Fool’s Gold Day Off’. And as far as like working with artists, I worked with Denzel a lot during the making of this album. He was making his album at the same time I was, in the same studio. So we pretty much sat in each other’s sessions and gave each other notes and helped each other out. That was like my band mate there during the whole time I was making this album. A beautiful process. It feels good to find other people that you can make music with, that are not part of your group, but you have a lot of comfortability with.
Were there any stories you felt like you couldn’t really tell through songwriting or you weren’t ready to?
Oh yeah, a million stories. I mean, I didn’t talk too much about my introspective, but I’m not as internal as I’d like to be on the album. Originally that’s what I wanted to do, but I just felt like I didn’t want to really make my first project to be about trauma. I think you have enough trauma in the world. As a black man, I’m very big on not exploiting my trauma because I feel like my culture’s trauma gets exploited enough and people make millions and billions of dollars off of it. And unless it’s like a message or something behind it, I’m not really a big fan of just exploiting that. So, right time, right place is how I really feel with everything. There’s definitely a lot of stories, my childhood things that I’ve been through, things I’ve seen, my relationship with my father, relationships with women, like this mad, deep, dark and crazy and beautiful things I’ve been through. There’s emotions and there’s pain behind that too. And there’s other people, these are real stories, so I don’t want other people to get hurt. It’s a balance in that regard.
Do you feel like this album is a closed chapter or are you considering continuing it, with future songs, releases or a new album even?
I’m already working on album number two. And I’m still gonna keep going. The whole goal right now is that we open this new path so that Erick and Juice and all find a new lane to express ourselves solo and then also do what we have to do as a group as well. So yeah, you could expect new music from me, a bunch of new music and it’s not gonna sound the same. And that’s my whole goal now. I should just make sure I explore all the different sounds that I want. ‘Gothic Luxury’ is gonna sound like ‘Gothic Luxury’ and when I do ‘Gothic Luxury Two’ you’ll know what family the sound is going to be in. But for the next project it’s gonna be something totally different, a lot more bright, a lot more loud and a lot more colorful, a lot more bouncy.
Your handle on social media is MEECHISDEAD and that is in general a big topic in some of your songs. Is this something you write about often? For what reason?
I don’t have a specific reason. It’s just something that is a topic that’s always been fascinating or just a normal topic to me. You know, it’s like breathing. I feel like it’s a topic that a lot of people are afraid to talk about or makes them feel strange and uncomfortable. They kind of step away from it. And I’ve always been the kind of person to just explore those thoughts because eventually you’ll be gone. And the powerful thing about music is that you can immortalize yourself through your art and that’s why I do like to talk about death every now and then. One day someone will be listening to my music when I’m gone and maybe what I said will make a lot more sense and hit harder.
Other than the exciting album and the one you’re already working on as a continuation, you were also touring, right? How was that and what are your plans for the upcoming tour?
I’m on tour right now with Joey Bada$$, Powers Pleasant and Nyck Caution. We are doing a little European run. It feels good, cause we haven’t been in Europe in like three to four years. It feels real good to be back on the road, especially with everything being locked down, everything slowed down for the last two years. I feel like what we do is being able to go perform these songs for actual humans and get interaction and trade energy, go eat new food and see new places and learn new worlds. It’s what I look forward to the most.
In conclusion, obviously you have a lot going on with the new album and the tour. That’s very exciting. Is there anything else that you have been working on or are excited about for the upcoming months or upcoming year?
I did this little cartoon not too long ago. It is like 15 minutes and I’m trying to figure out how to release it. I did that during making the album, because you need other stuff. Sometimes you need other things to get your mind off, so you’re not just obsessed with one thing. But honestly, all I’m really looking forward to is making music. That’s all I wanna do right now, just make music, music with no boundaries, with no title attached to nothing. I literally make whatever’s on my mind. I’m trying to make some music on the road and capture some of this energy I feel out here in Europe.
Interview by MIYANNE MAASSEN VAN DEN BRINK & TIMI LETONJA
Listen to GOTHIC LUXURY here:
photography LEE MALONE
stylist JAY HINES
styling assistant ASHLEY POWELL
editor TIMI LETONJA
special thanks to COLOURS HOXTON