Born Ian Matthais Bavitz in Syosset, NY, the Portland, OR-based emcee and producer Aesop Rock was at the forefront of a collection of underground and alt hip-hop acts that emerged during the late 1990s and early 2000s with his most boundary pushing work being released through El-P‘s Definitive Jux Records. Aesop Rock has also developed a reputation for being a go-to collaborator, as he is the member of a number of different musical projects including The Weathermen, Hail Mary Mallon with Rob Sonic and DJ Big Wiz, The Uncluded with Kimya Dawson and Two of Every Animal with Cage. Throughout his career, the Syosset-born, Portland-based emcee and producer has been largely considered one of the more verbose emcees, known for a flow that’s centered by dense and abstract wordplay and incredibly complex rhyme schemes.
Over the past decade, the Pittsburgh-born and based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter TOBACCO (born Thomas Fec) as a solo artist and as the frontman and primary songwriter of Black Moth Super Rainbow has used analog synths and tape machines to record material that rapidly alternates between absurdly bright beauty and the murderously sinister in a way that evokes a woozy and uneasy intertwining of tension, anxiety, bemusement and pleasure. Interestingly, the duo’s collaboration Malibu Ken can trace its origins back to when TOBACCO and Aesop Rock toured together over a decade ago. “I find his production to be something special, and always wanted to see what I could bring to it,” Aesop Rock says in press notes. ” We recently found time to record some songs, and Malibu Ken was born. I brought a few stories to the table, but also did my best to let the production dictate the subject matter throughout. We hope you like the soup.” Rhymesayers Entertainment will be releasing the duo’s self-titled, full-length debut on January 18, 2019, and as you may recall, the self-titled album’s first single “Acid King” was arguably one of the most forward-thinking, strangest, boundary sapushing hip-hop tracks I’ve heard in some time. Sonically, Aesop Rock spit a series of dense, mind-spinning bars full of absurd and gory imagery, betrayals and heartbreaks over a woozy and menacing retro-futuristic production centered around layers of shimmering and arpeggiated synths.
“Corn Maze,” the album’s second and latest single is centered around a dense and junky, retro-futuristic production featuring layers of fluttering, shimmering and woozily whirring synths, thumping beats and anthemic hooks — while Aesop Rock spits dense bars with odd, novelistic detail, describing a narrator who’s an anti-social and paranoid fuck-up. And as a result, the song evokes a sweaty, half-remembered insomniac dream that’s managed to linger.
The recently released video, directed by frequent Aesop Rock collaborator Rob Shaw, depicts Aesop Rock in an insomniac daze in which the late night Japanimation-inspired cartoons he starts watching seem to suddenly become self-aware, commenting on the ridiculousness of their situation. It’s a trippy mix of live action, cheap animation and 80s animation that further emphasizes the song’s junky, retro-futurism.