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.
AKAI SOLO — “Neo New York”
AKAI SOLO has been at the vanguard of New York’s rap scene for a few years. The Brooklyn, NY rapper’s writing is deeply personal yet coded, a cathartic experience to either unpack or simply let wash over you. “Neo New York,” a standout song from his latest project True Sky, explicitly tethers AKAI’s style and sensibility to his birth city. Over producer Navy Blue’s faded horns and skittering hi-hats, AKAI waxes about demons pointing guns at his face in his mind and how life feels more like the 1995 film Dead Presidents every day.
Lo-Fi Tigers — “Let Me Cry On Your Chest”
Italian producer Davide Bacci, who creates under the name Lo-Fi Tigers, believes in the power of venting. “Let Me Cry On Your Chest,” his single from the Pueblo Vista compilation Latenite Joints 015, combines swelling synths, drums, wind chimes, and piano to create a lush and ethereal experience. It crests and flows like a river or tears running down someone’s chest after a nice venting session.
Kame Beats — “lofi type beat 'kusanagi' anime type beat 2021”
Anime and rap beats have been synonymous with each other for nearly two decades. That relationship has become more prominent than ever, especially when you consider the work of producers like Kame Beats. With “lofi type beat 'kusanagi' anime type beat 2021,” named after the sword used by Saskue on the hit anime Naruto, Kame has brought synths, piano, and drums come together to create a relaxing atmosphere akin to the meditative moments before a battle breaks out.
Kuzz — “Help Me”
Toronto-based vocalist Kuzz is wading through love. On his latest single, “Help Me,” Kuzz attempts to meet a lover halfway, even if he’s unsure of how. There’s distance in both his lyrics and his voice as he attempts to work out how to proceed with this relationship. Accompanied by light guitars and dampened drums, Kuzz occupies a world of romantic confusion that, at the very least, sounds beautiful.
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