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.
bars — “BIG LIGHT”
The moving parts of New Jersey rapper-producer bars’ “BIG LIGHT” are awe-inspiring. Released as a single winding 21-minute suite, “BIG LIGHT” blends ambient music and hip-hop and samples of Tony Soprano and Paul Wall into a warm audio collage perfect for the springtime. Hearing the airy synths and drums of the song’s second section, “back2reality,” flow seamlessly into the punchy drums and piano keys of the song’s third section, “billywoahcean,” is enthralling and proves bars’ grasp on sequencing is second to none.
Masongo Ogora — “God’s Fingertips”
The influx of tribute tracks for the late MF DOOM has been a welcome salve for fans still grieving. One of the latest is from rapper-producer Masongo Ogora, who uses his latest single “God’s Fingertips,” to pay tribute to the metal-faced legend. Ogora charts his experiences with DOOM and Capital Steez of Pro Era before getting off complex bars of his own, rapping confidently over producer Kawhiatus’s smooth guitar and drums.
Sebastian Kamae & Nosy Beats — “Every Cloud”
As COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift and the weather gets warmer, I’m looking forward to going on springtime night walks again. Sebastian Kamae and Nosy Beats’s “Every Cloud” comes the closest to capturing the fresh possibilities of a short trip through nature. Damp drums create the foundation for a smooth melody of cooing synths circling the skies like pastel clouds. The shuffling rhythm of “Every Cloud” is as refreshing as a cold drink on a hot day.
C Y G N — “Naked Sunday”
A Sunday means different things to different people: it can be a day of rest, a day to reflect, or the day before you have to go back to work for another week. Producer C Y G N’s “Naked Sunday,” a standout single from his latest project Into The Past, depicts the day as a blend of jazzy goodness to get lost in, even if just for a few minutes. With some vocal samples, synths, and just a light touch of saxophone, “Naked Sunday” has all the ingredients necessary to create a stone-cold vibe.
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