ALBUM REVIEW: Aesop Rock and Tobacco Are ‘Malibu Ken’

A match made in surrealistic hip-hop heaven.

Malibu Ken, the warped full-length collaboration between brainy wordsmith Aesop Rock and Black Moth Super Rainbow mastermind Tobacco, is a match made in surrealistic hip-hop heaven. Over 34 minutes, the duo shows what makes them so unique. ⠀

For 20 years, Portland’s Aesop Rock’s sci-fi-inspired, laser-speed rhymes have mixed intellectual criticism of modern society with absurdist gallows humor. In that same time, Pittsburgh’s Tobacco/BMSR has made psychedelic electronic music that at times resembles a grainy ’70s educational video, a lo-fi Boards of Canada, or a unsexy version of Air. ⠀

Every track on Malibu Ken brings out the best of each artist, with Tobacco’s warm, airy production and dreamy vocoders perfectly complimenting Aesop’s dense, surrealist rhymes. His words are less autobiographical and story-based here, favoring abstract lines about loofas, half eighths and half ate corn dogs, and birds eating cats like churros. Every song is packed with fractured words and melodies that groove and get weird without overstaying their welcome.

For fans of either artist, this collaboration doesn’t disappoint, and they could very well win over some new hip-hop psyconauts looking to go on a wild musical ride.⠀

Score: 🌈 🌈🌈🌈/5