Meechy Darko is just starting his day. On a boiling hot summer day in August, we meet up at Stay Press’d, his Brooklyn juice bar that he opened last year. Meech sits comfortably while his high school friend and business partner Tyheem Powell mans the juice-making station set up behind a register. The walls of the bar are painted a stark white; one main wall features artwork of fruit while another displays the full menu of the juices Powell is making for the customers. It’s a small but practical space, Darko, Powell, and Powell’s wife having transformed Stay Press’d into a growing business.
“It was supposed to be a pizza place but pizza is not as healthy. Brittany, [Powell’s wife] came up with the beautiful idea of a juice bar. It’s a bunch of friends and we’ve known each other forever…It took teamwork,” he said proudly.
Skipping small talk Meech, who’s wearing a Bape camouflage hat and a gray logo T-shirt, declares I’m the second person he’s seeing and speaking to. It’s the afternoon after his first solo show in New York, which was packed with angsty and energetic fans at beloved Williamsburg music venue Baby’s All Right.
“I felt comfortable. I didn’t have to think about anything. I was not nervous,” Meech said when asked about how he felt about the show. “It was just performing for my friends and family really.”
At Baby’s All Right, Meech gave his fans a taste of his solo debut, Gothic Luxury, which dropped on Friday. When he performed a rendition of the single “Kill Us All (K.U.A.),” the crowd was at their most energetic, with many fans rapping alongside Meech, the lyrics exploring the artist’s thoughts on police brutality and the Black Panther movement, as well as his views on politics. Later in the evening, he brought out Denzel Curry for “Lost Souls,” a standout track from the album that also features legendary rapper Busta Rhymes. After experiencing the show, it became apparent that the goal of Gothic Luxury is to allow avid Flatbush Zombies fans into Meech’s own world.
Gothic Luxury arrives a month after the group celebrated the tenth anniversary of their debut mixtape D.R.U.G.S. This breakout project set the precedent for the psychedelic-tinged music Flatbush Zombies would go on to create for years. It also paved the way for Meech, who’s well aware of his trajectory from being in a group he created with his friends — Erick who he’s known since he was four, and Juice who he met in a junior wrestling league — to eventually becoming a solo act.
For Gothic Luxury, Meech switched up his recording process, beginning with moving to a new city.
“I moved to Los Angeles, built new relationships,” he said. “It was really just about me building new brotherhoods with the people around me.” He adds that Dot Da Genius — the album’s executive producer — and Denzel Curry also played supportive roles in the album’s creation.
Over a year ago, he said he rented a home in L.A. for a week and a half and invited new friends like Dot to live together and create the album.
“We got to see each other face to face for like a week. We [woke] up with each other every morning, we [ate] breakfast [together],” he said. Rather than recording inside of the home like he’d been doing for years with Flatbush Zombies, Meech said he went to a studio a lot with Curry, Dot, and other producers including Parker and Jay Versace.
“Meechy’s story is a very unique and powerful story, being from Brooklyn. We all know [him] and we all have heard him in this rap sphere,” Dot said during a phone call. “His voice is probably one of the more special voices in hip hop at this moment. And that alone is just a thing of beauty.”
Dot added that since they’re both from Brooklyn they saw eye-to-eye creatively, and were able to make a cohesive album that also sounded opulent, inspired by both Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready To Die, and the luxurious rap sound of Rick Ross. The end result is an album that allows Meech to step into his independence and showcase who he is as a solo artist.
“I tried not to overthink my process,” Meech said. “I tried to really write what I felt.”
This can be felt in tracks like “On GOD,” which features Freddie Gibbs and samples OutKast’s “Aquemini.” The song touches on the passing of Meech’s father at the hands of the Miami police in 2020, with the artist rapping: “‘I hear his voice sayin’ ‘Chin up, I’m still here son / They kill me in the flesh, but my soul lives on.’” Though he chooses to not speak about his father when I ask, he shared during his Baby’s All Right set that he chose to keep making music even as he grieved his father’s death.
There’s also “Kill Us All,” a politically charged track that finds the artist at his most militant.
“People expect political shit from me but the last thing I want to do is make a political album,” he said. “So, the most I could do is say all my political stuff in one song instead of spreading it out.”
But one of the strongest songs on Gothic Luxury is “Lost Souls,” a Dot Da Genius-produced track featuring Denzel Curry and Busta Rhymes. Meech shared that the track was supposed to be on Curry’s album Melt My Eyez See Your Future, but ended up becoming his.
“I’m really big into juxtaposition and irony and shit like that. I like the idea of you seeing a track list and it says my name, Busta and Denzel,” Meech said of the track. “You probably think it’s going to be mad loud and super high energy and fast. And I was like, ‘Nope, you’re not getting any of that.’” Speaking to Busta’s appearance on the track, Meech added: “I’ve been wanting to work with Busta, he’s [a] hometown hero [and] neighborhood hero.”
As we wrap our conversation at Stay Press’d, Meech shares that he’s preparing to headline his first-ever solo tour in November, and just wants to continue making music, saying that he’s proud of what he’s made with his solo debut.
“I feel like most artists don’t even get to feel like that because they’re too busy trying to choose algorithms or reinvent the wheel,” he said. “I just want to make as much music as I can so when I die niggas can listen to every verse and be like, ‘Oh God, this nigga is better than everybody that ever rapped before, he’s one of the best ever.’ I care about my integrity.”
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