There's an intriguing little paradox at the front of Lul Big Brother's stage name and an even bigger one at the center of his music. "I know there's a certain sound I have in my head," says the 24-year-old D.C. native. "I'm trying to find a way to make it loud and soft at the same."

Photo by Mignon Hemsley (Lul Big Brother/Mignon Halsey)

That explanation makes a lot of sense coming from a rapper who can already make his staccato rhymes feel velour-smooth, a rapper whose hottest songs exude immeasurable cool, a rapper who seems to be figuring out how to sound totally blasé and deeply sincere in the space of a single breath. His music doesn't sound conflicted. It sounds multidirectional.

Lul Big Brother says he probably learned how to move in these mysterious ways by listening to the lyrical loop-de-loops of Lil Wayne and the otherworldly rhapsodies that Timbaland once crafted for Missy Elliott and Aaliyah. But when he finally decided to pursue his rapping more tenaciously, a few years back, he was simply aiming to get comfortable inside the sound of his own voice so that it could eventually feel like music — first to him, then to others.

"I was at that age when you're searching for things to do, for what makes you happy in life, for what doesn't bore you," he says. "Now the goal is to make the art that's true to me, to make it as good as I can, and give it to the world and hope it does something for people."

Show: Opening for Beau Young Prince on Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. at Songbyrd, 2477 18th St. NW. $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

Correction: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect photo credit. The photographer was Mignon Hemsley.