Rapper Aesop Rock and producer TOBACCO (a.k.a. Black Moth Super Rainbow) met on the tour circuit over a decade ago, and their long-coming full length album collaboration showcases the duo’s tight chemistry to convincing effect. While Aesop’s lyrics are often typified by verbose, densely-packed verses, the stripped-down, electronic-based beats that anchor Malibu Ken bring out a refreshing clarity in the MC’s voice.

Production wise, “Sword Box” introduces ‘80s-style synth refrains into the mix, “Suicide Big Gulp” employs perky handclaps to make the track snap and bounce along, while closing cut “Purple Moss” hits a poignant note thanks to carefully layered instrumentation.

When it comes to Aesop’s lyrics, he embraces clever concepts just as readily as he ever has, capped by “1+1=13” where he muses on the precarious nature of life: “If anybody out there, show me a sign / Leaders of the free world blowing on dice / We load our bowls, we close our eyes.”


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