Something to remember whenever Matt McGhee sets a rhyme to melody: Not all singers are rappers, but all rappers are singers. As human beings, we all vocalize in an array of pitches, inflecting all of our speech with a certain degree of singsong. So when McGhee delivers his most tuneful stanzas, he hopes you won’t burn any brain cells agonizing over whether you’re hearing a rapper or a singer.
“I never wanted to make it a big thing,” the DMV native says of his approach. “A singing song or a rapping song — whatever it is that you want to do, you should be able to do it. There shouldn’t be labels on the music we make these days. Music is broad. Music is music.”
That wide-minded approach gives McGhee’s music its air of possibility, but ultimately, he wants the syllables that jump out of his mouth to be organized, lucid and legible. “Being able to enunciate when I need to, being able to deliver certain emotions on certain lines — that’s always been important to me,” McGhee says. “To make your words be felt, you need to be clear and firm about what you’re saying.”
McGhee’s new three-song suite, “Crash,” recounts a love story in three acts, beginning with a fragile mea culpa, continuing with a clear-eyed reconciliation and concluding with a heartsick nostalgia trip. As the tale unfolds, he goes from chirping in falsetto to spitting from the depths of his diaphragm, bending his voice toward whatever shape the story demands.
Show: March 21 at 7 p.m. at Pie Shop, 1339 H St. NE. $10-$15.