Beast Coast Edition: Who Had The Better Verse?

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Joey Badass: Jason Kempin/Getty Images; Flatbush Zombies: HNHH; The Underachivers: Johnny Nunez/WireImage/Getty Images
A month on from its release, it's time to break down each track on Beast Coast's "Escape From New York" and designate an MVP

For fans of hip-hop in its conventional, tried-and-tested mould, you’d be hard pressed to find a record in 2019 that is more optimized for your needs than Beast Coast’s debut project as a collective. An authentic and heartfelt ode to the culture that uplifted them, Escape From New York harks back to the golden era of the posse cut where each MC brought the pinnacle of their penmanship to the table. Predicated on friendly competition rather than animosity, Flatbush Zombies, The Underachievers and PRO ERA’s decision to pool their resources in favour of one common goal doesn’t mean that they’d have to override the drive to outdo one another. Hardwired into hip-hop’s DNA since the formative years of battle-rap, asserting your dominance on a track is still an intrinsic part of not only the artist’s mindset but the online discourse which surrounds a track’s release.

By this token, each member of Beast Coast’s studious approach to the craft of hip-hop and respect for its originators and agitators means that it’s only right for Escape From New York’s 13 tracks to be analyzed in this manner. After a month-long period of digestion, it’s time to delve back into this multi-faceted project and pinpoint its MVP’s.

Images throughout:

Meechy Darko:  Noam Galai/Getty Images
Zombie Juice: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Erick Arc Elliott: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images
Nyck Caution:  Randy Shropshire/Getty Image
AK: Johnny Nunez/WireImage/Getty Images
Issa Gold:  Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

"It Ain't Easy" feat. Meechy Darko, Erick Arc Elliott, Zombie Juice, Nyck Caution, Kirk Knight, CJ Fly & AK

Beast Coast Edition: Who Had The Better Verse?

Built around the credo of “bitch, I’m a hustler, flex like a wrestler,” it was clear from the get-go that Beast Coast weren’t here to rest in neutral but demonstrate their prowess on the album’s opening cut “It Ain’t Easy, It Ain’t Easy.” Bookended by the idiosyncratic tones of Zombie Juice, the track varies between fleeting six bar onslaughts from Nyck Caution & Meechy Darko alongside more expansive efforts from Erick “Arc” Elliott and AKTHESAVIOR. Unsurprisingly, the spoils go to the crew with more room to play with, in the form of CJ FLY. Flanked by veritable heavy hitters from Flatbush, the criminally overlooked Pro-Era cohort made every case for an upturn of his fortunes on this adeptly realized verse that displayed his engrossing delivery and penchant for wordplay in one fell swoop. 

Best Bars:

You her boy toy but she want a man

You more like our subordinate

Line you up, send the coordinates

Went to PR 'cause I want a tan

I'm a twenty on a scale of one to ten

We got matching rings like we the Wonder Twins

I am not playing like I'm on the bench at a game

'Cause the ref fouled me out for a tech

I shoot the trey in they face leave you jaw dropped

I'm puttin' the points up 'cause I've been the best

Beast Coast the team, no I'm not with the Nets

Winner: CJ FLY

"Left Hand" feat. Joey Bada$$, Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice, Erick Arc Elliott, Issa Gold, AK, Kirk Knight, Nyck Caution & CJ Fly

Beast Coast Edition: Who Had The Better Verse?

The calm before the storm, “Left Hand” was the track that signified the arrival of Beast Coast as more than a likeminded group of peers but a cohesive unit. Built around an ominous Tyler Dopps & Sam Wish beat that recalls the heyday of Queensbridge’s Mobb Deep if it were updated for a new generation, Meechy Darko’s gravelly rasp keeps the momentum going in between the verses with its infectious chorus. Although a case could be made for Durt Cobain himself as the victor, he is narrowly pipped to the post by none other than The Underachievers’ Issa Gold. Renowned for his ability to construct intricate verses that remain just as impactful as simpler syllable patterns, his bar-work is on another level here and gets him the well-deserved nod:

Best Bars:

Step through, n***a be feelin' like James Bond

Enemies buckin' softer than cotton and creamed corn

Hennessy fill my liver, been drinking a liter

On a killing spree, knocking back thotties like ping pong

N***s Diddy Kong, follow a leader with weak hearts

Singing silly songs, giving no effort, I leak sauce

Hope you live long, praying for niggas that hate strong

Never hate on, giving out love like Faizon

Winner: Issa Gold

"Problemz" feat. Erick Arc Elliott, CJ Fly, Issa Gold, AK, Zombie Juice & Nyck Caution

Beast Coast Edition: Who Had The Better Verse?

Laid down over a signature Arc beat that gives each member ample space to contort the track’s core message into any shape they see fit, “Problemz” strips away the veneer of the eternally confident rapper to grapple with the wide array of issues that plague them. In terms of highlights, there’s no shortage of fascinating outings over its duration including Zombie Juice’s adoption of the Bone-Thugs flow and Nyck Caution emphatic case for being on some “Brooklyn don shit” but it’s Erick that remains the star throughout. From the production to its key sentiment and chorus, it’s clear that Flatbush Zombie’s resident musical pioneer carried this track from conception to execution and therefore he shines above all else.  

Best Bars: 

I've been to too many shows

Jaded 'cause I'm missin' paper for music, they losin', they quick to download

Normally I would just speak for myself, but this time I got lick from the woes

Word, this world losin' your soul

What is your ultimate goal? If you don't play you don't fold

Winner: Erick The Architect

"Faraway" feat. Kirk Knight, Meechy Darko, Erick Arc Elliott, Nyck Caution & Joey Bada$$

Beast Coast Edition: Who Had The Better Verse?

Never ones to be pigeon-holed, “Far Away” is one of several detours on the record that takes them from modern gatekeepers of NY hip-hop into unburdened slow jam territory. With Kirk Knight coming through on a silkily smooth hook, he makes a compelling case for a possible segue into the R&B lane in the future and this will become a theme throughout. But as far as the bars go, it’s none other than PE’s head honcho himself Josef Badmon that prevails courtesy of a verse that asks for undying loyalty from his girl over all else.

Best Bars:

Need a bitch with elegance

A bitch with etiquette

A ride or die bitch

The one who I can get cheddar with

Is you down for whatever, would you hold a Beretta?

If it came down to some fed shit, would you tell em?

Look, time gon tell, but you might as well, uh

Winner: Joey Bada$$

"Snow In The Stadium" feat. Erick Arc Elliott, Joey Bada$$, Meechy Darko, Kirk Knight, CJ Fly & Issa Gold

Beast Coast Edition: Who Had The Better Verse?

An aural tribute to the Jamaican heritage of many of its core members, “Snow In The Stadium” sees them bridge the gap between the wintery climes of New York City and the coastal town of Kingston. Bustling with the energy and verbiage of the nation’s subcultural artforms, CJ Fly and Joey both tap into their roots with undeniable ease but no one’s delivery is better suited to this mode of expression than the guttural roar of Meechy Darko.

Best Bars:

I get high off life but they won't let me be

Weapon on my side, I shot the deputy

Drink up all night, preferably Hennessy

Please pass my light, the weed will set you free

Puff, puff, then fly, move like a refugee

My gun, my knife, the bare necessities

Winner: Meechy Darko

"Rubberband" feat Meechy Darko, Erick Arc Elliott, Zombie Juice & Joey Bada$$

Beast Coast Edition: Who Had The Better Verse?

By the time that “Rubberband” arrives, Beast Coast have the listener surrounded and are bombarding them with as much style and adaptability as they can handle. An uncompromising number that sees Joey Bada$$ stake his claim as “top 5? Nah, more like the fuckin’ greatest” and enlist vocal manipulation in a K-Dot inspired fashion, this would ordinarily be enough to garner him a lap of honour if it weren’t for the self-proclaimed “Count Rackula.” When it comes to beats that are as impenetrably dark as this, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that Meech will flourish and “Rubberband” is no different.

Best Bars:

I really hope you get everything you prayin' for

Even if that thing you prayin' for my downfall

Amen, hallelujah

I say I'm number one, you say delusional

Woke up like fuck that humble shit, I’m on my rumble shit

Winners talk about winnin’, losers talk about other shit

You never get what you deserve, just what you negotiate

You want the bag, I want the safe

Click-clack, nobody safe

Winner: Meechy Darko

"Distance" feat. Joey Bada$$, Issa Gold & Erick Arc Elliott

Beast Coast Edition: Who Had The Better Verse?

Among the finest tracks on the record, "Distance" is nothing short of a lyrical clinic that shows the full scope and originality of The Beast Coast movement as channelled through Joey, Erick and Issa Gold. In the interest of full disclosure, you could easily make a case for each one of this trio to get the nod on this track as they’re all delivering in spades. However, the frenzied delivery and creative zeal of Issa Gold’s verse just edges it on this occasion. Between the punchy ad-libs and the feats of linguistic acrobatics, it’s Issa’s finest hour on the entire project.

Best Bars:

She tryna fuck, make her lock her knees

Can't hear you talk, I speak Guap-anese

Wrappin' the work, I’ma cop a ki'

Smoke out the V, tryna dodge police

N***a been stuck in his ways

Bill Belichick, how I'm callin' out plays

Causin' a wreck, hope I don't catch a case

Watch how you step or my n***s will spray

Winner: Issa Gold

"Bones" feat Erick Arc Elliott, Zombie Juice, Meechy Darko, Issa Gold, AKTHESAVIOR, Nyck Caution & Kirk Knight

Beast Coast Edition: Who Had The Better Verse?

When it comes to unyielding, trunk-knocking abrasiveness, nothing on Escape From New York, quite equals the reverberating tactical assault of “Bones.” Featuring each member of The Underachievers, Flatbush Zombies, Kirk Knight and Nyck Caution, the levels of rapping on display make it clear that every member was hellbent on getting the bragging rights on this cut. Though Nyck Caution’s staccato blitz very nearly managed to secure the W, AKTHESAVIOR’s addendum to the flow and the power of his bars take precedence and ensures that he isn’t left in the dust by his UA counterpart tag team partner.

Best Bars:

Louis carry-on, fill it up with ganja

Keep a very long shotty for imposters

Pellegrino on the wrist cost a comma

Nefertiti on the dick, she a scholar

Been fly, you can check the flight mileage

Broke boy can't even pay homage

Pull up with the gang, tell me how they gon' stop us



"Puke" feat. Nyck Caution, Erick Arc Elliott, Meechy Darko, AK & Joey Bada$$

Beast Coast Edition: Who Had The Better Verse?

Amid the cadre of lessons to be taken from Escape From New York, two of the most reoccurring are that A: a new project from Nyck Caution is well overdue and B: the truncated nature of his use on this record denies him the ability to become the star of the show that he easily could be. Ushered in by his phenomenal intro verse— "Circle real tight, and I don't trust broken men, Thought that you was solid, but it won't cement, Cut ties with those guys, haven't spoke to them"— he is deprived a victory once more by the force of nature that is the Pro Era commander-in-chief Joey Bada$$. Armed with a flow that demonstrates his constant progression, Joey lays waste to this “Arc” produced joint with a multi-layered 16.

Best Bars:

I don't even keep score, bitch I got the win

They need me like oxygen

On me, the whole block depend

Don't you ever try to box 'em in, box 'em out

Faded off of shots of gin, I'm Pacquiao

I hear the money callin' like a pocket-dial (Brr)

Do what I wanna 'cause I'm poppin' now (Yeah)

Made it this far, ain't no stoppin' now (Noo)

No more freestyle, gotta cop it now (Yeah)

It goes straight to the top, when I drop it now (Wow)

Winner: Joey Bada$$

"Desparado" feat. Meechy Darko, Joey Bada$$, Zombie Juice & Kirk Knight

Beast Coast Edition: Who Had The Better Verse?

At a time where we’re entrenched in the Yee-haw agenda, “Desperado” takes the notion of the outlaw back from the sterilized confines of ironic cowboy hats and chaps and into more lawless territory.  A track that demonstrates their resolve to win at all costs, Meechy Darko’s menacing chorus of “loadin' hollows, headshots to all my rivals, never, ever, ever had a fuckin' idol” is exactly what we’ve came to love and expect from FBZ’s most vocally gripping artist. That aside, “Desperado” sees one of Pro Era’s wrongfully unsung heroes come through in the clutch with Kirk Knight earning a well-earned point. Though he’s shone throughout the record on the hooks, it’s his showing on “Desperado” that drills home what has kept him in the ranks of a hot prospect as a rapper for all these years.

Best Bars:

Drink the bottle, drown my problems, Insta models

Fuck them off and fly to death, I'm a walkin' coffin

Laugh to the bank, I can't hear you talkin'

See so many signs, proceed with caution (Skrrt)

She wanna fuck in the Benz, had to park it (Skrrt)

Moments like this, I just reminisce

Back when a nigga just had no options

Back when I take anybody wallet

Winner: Kirk Knight


"One More Round" feat. Meechy Darko, Erick Arc Elliott, Nyck Caution & Joey Bada$$

Beast Coast Edition: Who Had The Better Verse?

Following a run of some of the album’s most potent offerings in quick succession, “One More Round” is a much-needed reprieve that gives the listener time to catch their breath and decompress. A vessel for the group to let their guard slip and speak candidly, one takeaway that likely no-one expected to come away from this project with is the absolute revelation of Meechy Darko’s ability to deftly soften the edges of his voice. On “One More Round,” Meech eschews the hyper-aggression and forcefulness that we’ve grown accustomed to in order to croon poignantly and it’s more than enough to earn him the point.

Best Bars:

Please tell me you pourin'

I could read your mind, it says that you want it

I'm only good vibes or no vibes at all, shit (At all, shit)

Drinkin' while I drive, I'm swervin' I'm zonin'

My cup overflowing

Usually where the smoke is

Winner: Meechy Darko


"Coast Clear" feat. Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice, Erick Arc Elliott, Kirk Knight, Issa Gold, Nyck Caution & Joey Bada$$

Beast Coast Edition: Who Had The Better Verse?

With Powers Pleasant on the boards, “Coast/Clear” sees the Beast Coast crew deliver a track that wouldn’t seem out of whack on the Billboard Chart without stripping their sound of its distinct flavour or vitality. For Kirk Knight, this track is a perfect conduit to display why he could and should be a sought-after featured artist in the capacity of a singer. However, it’s his Nyck @ Knight sparring partner that finally secures the top billing here with a meticulously crafted salvo that captures the ethos that has governed their moment from the beginning.

Best Bars:

Life is like a roadblock, swerve around the potholes

They gon' try to cop out, fuck it, I'm a pyro

Maniac, burn it down, promise when the smoke clear

Zombies, UA with me, and the Pros here, yeah

Winner: Nyck Caution

"Last Choir" feat. Meechy Darko, Kirk Knight, Erick Arc Elliott, Nyck Caution & AK

Beast Coast Edition: Who Had The Better Verse?

After many unexpected but welcome detours, Beast Coast close out their Escape From New York with a take on the pitched-up, chipmunk soul era that was propagated by Kanye, Bink! and Just Blaze to name a few. With Meechy i n stellar form as he declares that “creativity easy when you're starvin,” he is only outshined by one of his FBZ brothers-in-arms in the form of Erick Arc Elliot. Prone to spinning verses that are every bit as invigorating as his instrumentals, the revered producer ensures that his often-overlooked rapping abilities are accounted for as the record concludes on a cathartic note.

Best Bars:

And it's such a awkward time

It's hard to get shine without the gimmicks

Confusion of the culture, on the holster

One shot can hold me over, now I'm right back to Magnolia

California the Opus, New York is where the home is

Not me, right out of college, and music has been my calling

I heard there's been a shortage, too many office’s phonies

Money can't hurt your pride, inside your heart there's annulments

With the spirit of Marvin, I summon somethin' evolvin’

Rise up and make a change, if you hesitate, you a target

Winner: Erick “Arc” Elliot

The Winner

Beast Coast Edition: Who Had The Better Verse?

Although the ultimate prize-winner here is hip-hop itself, no-one consistently put their best foot forward on this project quite like Meechy Darko. Whether it was in the capacity of emphatic hooks or deploying an eclectic mix of flows and cadences across his verses, Durt Cobain added more kindling to the fire for that solo album that he's been slyly teasing of late.

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