As soon as Mike of Doom starts prattling over the blurry boom-bap of “Diva,” it’s clear that you’re listening to a rapper too slippery to qualify or quantify. “I think I’m Beyoncé,” he murmurs, then does some inventive syllable-stressing: “I think out of 10, I’m 20.” With his vowels slumped in the bottom of the throat, he allows his consonants to slide in and out of the pocket, making the Maryland rapper sound nonchalant, confident, clever, extra-stylish and totally free.
It’s a casually terrific song, and one in a handful of tracks on his recent album, “Michael,” that floats a substantial proposition: Introspective rapping doesn’t have to be a bummed-out purge of existential anguish.
“A lot people think of ‘alone’ as a bad place,” Mike says. “But it’s a comfortable place for me. . . . There are times when I look around like, ‘Dang, where are my pick-up-the-phone-and-go-get-a-Slurpee-friends at?’ But overall, I think loneliness is something we need to embrace more. We gotta learn about ourselves.”
He says he learned plenty during the months he holed up in his bedroom making “Michael,” sometimes going three or four days without stepping outdoors. And when you make rap music that way, you initiate a deeper conversation with yourself — a dialogue where a boast is no longer a declaration so much as an affirmation. “I know I’m a diva/ I know my voice warms ya’ speaker.” That’s feel-good music, for him and for us.
Show: With Flynt Flossy, Turquoise Jeep and Wordspit on Friday at Rock and Roll Hotel. Show starts at 9 p.m.
202-388-7625. rockandrollhoteldc.com. $15 in advance; $18 at the door.