I've been a fan of Aesop Rock since 2004 when I first heard Float. I was a teenager and the intellectual complexity and quirky weirdness of Aesop Rock appealed to my search for novelty, and (I will admit it) my slightly inflated view of my own intelligence. Deconstructing his long winded and complex narratives was an entirely new listening experience for me, and I loved it.
That said, watching a new generation find and learn to love the man has been a bit of a bemusing experience for me. While I'm thrilled that he's getting the respect, attention and money that he deserves, when I hit one of his shows I'd like to see people paying attention and absorbing what he says, rather than talking loudly or acting a drunken fool. I will admit that maybe his move to the 'mainstream' has triggered the possessiveness that exists in every fan of indie music like me, and I’m driven to clown on bandwagon jumpers. I dunno if anyone reading this agrees with me, or if I come across as 'old'. By the way I don't really like cloud rap either, sorry...
All that said, the album Malibu Ken has everything a fan of Aesop Rock is looking for. Intelligent zaniness that conveys a message, usually one far removed from conventional rap topics. The offbeat and unconventional production trips him up in a few places (Sword Box) but it's subtle, and doesn't cause any issues with enjoyment of the record. I think working with a musician who primarily produces soundscapes unaccompanied by raps might be to blame, the beat is not always right for a vocalist.
Speaking of, I will say that as far as the production I wasn't really a fan. I saw TOBACCO in his Black Moth Super Rainbow incarnation opening for Aesop after the release of None Shall Pass, and neither me nor my friends were really into it. They were a bit too weird and not particularly easy to listen to, and finding out that they (he?) were releasing albums on Anticon didn't really come as a surprise.
The production is entirely played on synthesizers. It's clearly not sample based, which is something I tend to like. In it's entirety it doesn't utilize the variety of instruments and sounds that, say, Impossible Kid did so well. I would say the music sounds a bit like what you hear as background in those videos that new jobs make you watch that teach you to keep your hands to yourself. The retroness of it does seem to go with the cartoonish and gross cover (reminds me of Garbage Pail kids, therefor 80's). Musicianship is great, it's just not what I like personally.
I'm glad he made this album. It's a worthy addition to his highly respectable body of work. Everyone I know who likes Aesop likes this album, and it does seem that he enjoyed himself making it and didn't hold back. I'm sure most of you have already at least listened to it, but check it out if not. Honestly I'd love to get some of your thoughts, I know that this album is getting a lot of acclaim and attention. Anyone interested hit us up below!