If you listened to Big Baby Gandhi’s excellent new mixtape, you probably had a few different reactions, and unless you and I are on completely different wavelengths, one of them was probably something like, “Oh shit, this production is crazy.” Gandhi’s own beats were cool, but it was Hot Sugar and Steel Tipped Dove who stole the show.

There’s new blood flowing through hip-hop right now that’s giving way to all kinds of weird shit. It has made these atmospheric, spacey, murky, moody blends of psychedelia and ambience not only acceptable, but cool. The problem is, it’s also created this perception common within the newly christened fan base of left-field rap music that everything in this style is cool. This is not true. While a lot of producers coming up right now are trying to copy the styles of Clams Casino, Spaceghostpurrp, Illangelo, and Squadda B, most of them aren’t doing it nearly as well.

Instead of trying to mimic, some producers—like Hot Sugar and Steel Tipped Dove—are taking advantage of the opportunity to be strange and running in a different direction with it. Steep Tipped Dove inserts a heavy dose of weird in everything he touches, but he also captures clarity, and even in his most tripped out moments, nothing gets muddled.

T.Shirt is a New York rapper carrying on some of the sharp-tongued, often abandoned influence of the 90s. You can hear it in the way he speaks, you can gather it from every line. But he’s also a creative dude, not trying to recapture some “essence” that the kids these days left behind. That’s why this pairing is so ideal. To make T.Shirt’s style work over a Spaceghostpurrp beat, one of the two artists would need to make sacrifices. But with this combination, everything comes together with ease, like the snapping together of puzzle pieces. T.Shirt sounds comfortable, but Steel Tipped Dove skews it just enough to make something that’s just as interesting as it is comprehensible.

T.Shirt – “The Coolest Winter”