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.
Wavy Bagels — “Force”
Queens rapper-producer Wavy Bagels doesn’t rap often, so any time he picks up the mic is a special occasion. Ironically, his latest single, “Force,” is about as casual as it gets. Slinky piano keys and drums propel the song while Bagels raps like he’s strolling to the bodega on a weekend morning. Bagels compares himself to R&B singer Ruben Studdard before reminding listeners they aren’t entitled to anyone’s time. It’s a message as blunt as it is thoughtful, a perfect reflection of the music surrounding “Force.”
Rubychocha — “Body Call”
Physical connection is something rapper-producer Rubychocha won’t ever take for granted again. His latest self-produced single, “Body Call,” is a quick trip through a hookup he feels could potentially turn into something more. The song is backed by a smooth soul sample and crisp kickdrums perfectly suited to the swelling awkwardness of potential new love. It’s unclear whether the vibe will last past the present night, but the feeling, like “Body Call” itself, lingers in the brain long after.
Melvin Alex — “Pure Joy”
New York producer Melvin Alex has a good ear for a sample. His latest single, “Pure Joy,” is built around a piano sample that rises and falls on flitty fingers, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of jazz lounges of the early 1930s. It represents a specific kind of joy unstuck in time, one defined by a night out with good friends, wine, and cheese dominated by the swirling sounds of live piano.
Trck. — “Night Drive”
Driving at night can either be intense or relaxing, depending on the kind of music you’ve got playing when you touch road. When I listen to producer Trck.’s “Night Drive,” a song from his latest project, Tranquilize, I get a clear picture of what the act of night driving means to him. Synths twinkle on the horizon from a drop-top whip while drums and a wailing saxophone keep things grounded to Earth. “Night Drive” soundtracks the kind of trip I’d relish after a hard day at work, a beat to lose your mind in until reality and imagination blur together into one.
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