Envelope-pushing is Black Milk’s M.O. From his time as an in-house producer for influential hip-hop group Slum Village (which featured his spiritual predecessor, J Dilla) through his decade-plus career as a solo artist, he has refused to spend too much time doing one thing. First it was chopping samples into throwback boom-bap; then adding live instrumentation and diving deeper into jazz, soul and funk; and, for the past several years, performing with D.C. trio Nat Turner.
Working with Nat Turner has opened up the aperture of Black Milk’s music. 2016’s “The Rebellion Sessions” was an instrumental, jazz-funk jam session on which he put down the mic. That spirit illuminates “Fever,” which was the result of trying to move away from the “dark side” explored on his past few albums. (His microphone, and his dense wordplay, return.)
Black Milk notes that about half of the tracks have a “feel-good” vibe but that the current social and political landscape made it difficult to fully let loose. “You have to give your perspective on what’s going on in the world,” he says. And although he didn’t want to make a strictly “political” album, he realized that an artist in his position, he says, must “let people know that you’re aware of what’s going on in the world.”
Show: Aug. 2 at 8 p.m. at the Rock & Roll Hotel. $20.