Lo-fi rap embraces imperfection. Artists and producers utilize unmixed vocals, distorted drums, and tape hiss for their practical and aesthetic beauty. From RZA and Dilla to Earl Sweatshirt and Roc Marciano, the lo-fi scene is as rewarding and overwhelming a subgenre as any currently existing in rap. Welcome to the Lo-Fi Rap Snack Pack, a weekly column where we highlight four songs across the lo-fi spectrum. Listen to the Lo-Fi Snack Pack playlist for these selections and more.
Heem & Benny The Butcher — “We The Realest (DrewsThatDude Remix)”
Remixes have the ability to redefine a song. New York producer DrewsThatDude keeps the tradition alive with his energetic flip of Benny The Butcher and Black Soprano Family member Heem’s brooding single “We The Realest.” Where the original favored the brooding atmosphere of a typical Griselda track, Drew’s remix uses chimes, deep drums, and synths to tease a lighter feel out of Heem and Benny’s raps, more in line with Benny’s Burden of Proof from earlier this year. Drew’s new beat shows off a different side of the realest.
brainorchestra. — “SKELETONS”
New Jersey rapper-producer brainorchestra. has had a prolific 2020. He’s dropped no less than five projects over the course of the last 12 months and is closing out the year with the 10-song beat tape SACRED. Near the end of the tape is “SKELETONS,” a standout groove that turns drums and synths into an eerie march through a cemetery. The beat is chilling but whimsical, like a cartoon skeleton dancing with its head in its hands.
Elujay & J.Robb — “GOLD BUDDHA” feat. Foggieraw
Aside from being valuable, gold can bring a sense of aesthetic well-being. California vocalist Elujay and Baltimore producer J.Robb explore this dichotomy on “GOLD BUDDHA,” a standout song from their latest project, GEMS IN THE CORNERSTORE. J.Robb’s synths and drums create a futuristic ambiance reflective of Elujay’s energy following his new purchase. “Karma make you think about the stress / Now I gotta gold Buddha wrapped around my neck.” The gold brings both Elujay and guest Foggieraw a sense of confidence, which also comes through on the project’s cover. The gold teeth flashing from the characters’ mouths gleam and pop against their skin, manifesting the song’s philosophy.
Stealth Is Metal — “What Should I Say?”
Producers speaking through the samples they use is a uniquely magical experience. Beatmaker Stealth Is Metal takes this to heart on his latest song, “What Should I Say?” The song is rooted with thick, muffled drums and a soaring string sample, but it’s the vocal sample that ties everything together. It’s light but purposeful, enhancing the already luxe atmosphere with a demand for emotional compromise: “Don’t push my love aside.” The sample adds a dramatic flair befitting of classic hip-hop.