Malibu Ken is the pairing of Aesop Rock and Tobacco. The two artists initially met about ten years ago when they toured together. They had always floated the idea that they should work together, but things just didn’t line up until now. Three years after Aesop Rock’s Impossible Kid and Tobacco’s Sweatbox Dynasty, the duo now presents their self-titled debut album.

Tobacco is a private and quirky musician, but his music has drawn in a lot of fans over the years due to the ways he’s able to coax interesting sounds and beats out of old analog synthesizers and drum machines and turn them into these eerie sci-fi-sounding beats. With that said, it wasn’t really a surprise to hear that Aesop Rock was working with him, who has been known to indulge in some eerie hip hop himself over the years. Going into the project, Aesop Rock wanted to come in relatively fresh and open, and let the beats from Tobacco dictate where the music was headed. The result is an interesting album, which ends up sounding like a more stripped down Aesop Rock album than we’re used to hearing. You get a nice mix of material from Aesop, who brings in analysis of his childhood, paranoia, weird slice-of-life tales, and more, all delivered with his trademark sense of humor and dense vocabulary. Tobacco doesn’t have to change his style much either, although the production is just a touch more pop-friendly than his proper solo material. Put it all together, and you have a fun and unusual hip hop album from two friends and veterans of the independent hip hop scene.

Malibu Ken is a pretty simple formula. Take one of the best emcees working today, and pair him with an innovative and unique producer, and let them make some fun and abstract hip hop together. Aesop Rock and Tobacco don’t overthink it, they both just bring exactly what makes themselves enjoyable to the table, and they make each other shine in the process.