Premiere: A Deceptively Summery R&B Tale From New D.C. Duo MILK$

By Joe Warminsky

Funky perspective: MILK$ (pronounced Milk Money) is DJ/producer Avervge, left, and MC/producer Parabellum Raps.
Funky perspective: MILK$ (pronounced Milk Money) is DJ/producer Avervge, left, and MC/producer Parabellum Raps. Noelle Lindsay

Don’t be fooled by the sunny G-funk groove and buttery, Nate Dogg-style chorus of “Wonder Woman,” the debut single by D.C. duo MILK$ (pronounced Milk Money). The lady in the title isn’t playing around.

Rapper/singer Parabellum Raps (Leaton White) faces an angry fiancee who violently accuses our narrator of being unfaithful. He dodges a Champagne bottle and tries to reason with her: “So go ahead put the knife down/Hear me out/I promise I never cheated/I am still devout.”

That kitchen confrontation is not “100 percent based on real life,” Parabellum admits, but his MILK$ partner, DJ/producer Avervge (pronounced Average) sees plenty of authenticity in it, anyway.

“[Parabellum] will never write about bulls–t,” says Avervge (Kyle Stewart). “He is constantly pushing himself lyrically, telling a story and dropping allusions in his verses.”

They met at their day jobs in D.C. “When he told me he rapped, I didn’t know what to think,” Avervge says, but he was impressed with the tracks that Parabellum eventually gave him. And yes, that’s the MC singing the California-smooth chorus on “Wonder Woman,” which contains a sly Justice League reference.

“There aren’t many MCs out there that can go between singing and rapping so effortlessly,” Avervge says.

“Wonder Woman” is also the leadoff track on Zodiac Sines, a full album that MILK$ plans to release online Aug. 18 — a cassette version will come out in September on D.C. label Odessa Madre. Expect more vocal versatility from Parabellum and more classically funky sounds from Avervge.

“He honestly listens to more music than anyone I know,” Parabellum says.

“Wonder Woman” has a decidedly West Coast feel (Avervge originally hails from Seattle), and it samples The Whispers’ California R&B classic, “Keep on Lovin’ Me,” but there’s a bit of D.C. tucked away in it, Parabellum says. It’s not just the DC Comics/District of Columbia wordplay.

“The radio stations in D.C. have always played soulful music,” Parabellum says, “and I distinctly remember my dad singing the lyrics to [“Keep On Lovin’ Me”] growing up and listening to it while riding in the car.”

MILK$ is planning an album release show for Zodiac Sines on Sept. 3 at Backbar DC.