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Thursday, October 21st, 2021  

Malibu Ken

Malibu Ken


Mar 11, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Presumably becoming friends during a 23-date tour from San Francisco (The Fillmore) to Atlanta (MJQ Concourse) in the fall of 2007, Aesop Rock (Ian Matthias Bavitz) and TOBACCO (Thomas J. Fec) parlay, 12 years later, in a synthesizer time warp as disorientation duo Malibu Ken. During that 2007 tour, TOBACCO was with his most usual referenced act, Black Moth Super Rainbow, sharing the stage with Aesop, Rob Sonic, Blockhead, and DJ Big Wiz. It must have gone grand because Aesop showed up on TOBACCO’s Fucked Up Friends a year later, twisting words on “Dirt.” Good friends never go away.

Looking at the album cover, Malibu Ken seems cracked out. Always spitting essays (whether fictional or not) at hyper speed, Aesop Rock proclaims out of the gate (“Corn Maze”) that he doesn’t like horses, and is covered in a gallon of sweat while TOBACCO swerves his synths across a windy road. Malibu Ken is rare, alien, and should, with no doubt, make more music. TOBACCO is playing synth ping-pong around Aesop’s witty rhymes; maybe the document was conceived over a session of video games. “Everybody Wang Chung with the spiritually bankrupt,” says Aesop on “Save Our Ship.” Malibu Ken is witchy wilderness.

Deciphering Aesop’s images is a mind trip: “say cheese through a trench mouth;” “I make rap, I’m not a fucking Peacock;” “The RockShox still knock on wood;” and “When a stained God turn fire into ice, I would rather die on spikes.” Aesop Rock has been doing this for 20 years, but navigating his mind is impossible. Wish my brain was fast enough to count Aesop’s Words Per Minute, and the task is further challenged by TOBACCO’s three layers of synththe Inception of Synth. Which came first, the beat or the rap? How many rappers can tell an entire story of a kid who stabbed someone 32 times (“Acid King”) over stolen PCP in three minutes?

Malibu Ken is wonky, unique electro-psychedelic thunk that is somewhat pretty. It’s crisp, sensational perplexity, and very hard to overthrow. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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