New York City-based rapper MIKE is one of the most promising lyricists in the alternative rap scene. He garnered a lot of critical acclaim for his 2021 album Disco!, and his upcoming album Beware of the Monkey seeks to capitalize on it. Its latest single, "What Do I Do?" is a moody and ethereal cut following last month's "nuthin i can do is wrng." He also handles production on this cut (like much of his catalog) under his alias dj blackpower.
MIKE is well-known for his ghostly and often atmospheric production, where vibes overpower drums to propel a track forward. He's been developing that style since projects like 2018's Black Soap and War In My Pen. "What Do I Do?" is no different, built off of a slowed down and fuzzy vocal sample repeating that phrase. Some faint drums appear, but they take a backseat. More than anything, they are there to make sure you don't get totally lost in the song's universe.
This new track's instrumental pallet is quite the contrast from his previous single "nuthin i can do is wrng." That song has a mostly untouched soul sample chopped to make up the entire beat. What's more is that the sample is untouched, but MIKE's voice is heavily distorted and manipulated. It's almost a complete role reversal, while still fitting in snugly into MIKE's wider body of work. We hope Beware of the Monkey brings more contrasts and fusions that he'll bring to life on his upcoming tour.
What the album will surely have, however, are introspective and compelling verses from the 24-year-old MC and producer. His refrain on "What Do I Do?" begs a question. "If you gave me all of you, would you tell me 'What do I do?'" MIKE seemingly wants to be trusted by someone and for them to allow him to help. It's an interesting sentiment considering the verses, which see MIKE feeling complacent and waiting for retirement. It's an odd message to crack, but his lines are vivid enough to make you want to read deeper in.
MIKE has also released a casual and intimate music video for his new single. Check it out below, find "What Do I Do?" on your preferred streaming service, and see some quotable lyrics too.
You could change, it could never surprise me
All this pain of it dead is behind
It was strange, but it never defined me
Overcame, ain’t no regular guy