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.
JIREH — “WHAT U WANT?”
JIREH understands the power of minimalism. On his latest single, “WHAT U WANT?,” the Baton Rouge rapper-producer takes a sultry R&B loop, slows it down, and dampens it to the point that every aspect of it sounds like a whisper. JIREH uses the hushed atmosphere to toast about confidence and the haters in his rearview mirrors. The beat and lyrics morph into one, becoming a droning chant that’s hard to ignore. The most intoxicating aspect of “WHAT U WANT?” is its muted sound palette, which JIREH uses to show that he’s got exactly what you need.
Capt Pigment — “Over You”
A good remix has the chance to redefine the way a listener looks at a song. Producer Capt Pigment, of the duo WeAreSkyWalkers, uses his latest single, “Over You,” to leave his mark on a Monica classic. He reconstructs the singer’s 2003 hit song “So Gone,” abandoning the bright synths and orchestral pomp of the original for a deeper groove of drums and keyboards. If the original song feels like bottle service at a four-star club, Pigment’s flip feels like last call at your local bar’s weekly dance night, an intimate shuffle to end the night on a smooth note.
Trck — “Sojourn”
Producer Trck uses the song “Sojourn” to approximate a sunny stillness. The synths, drums, and dots of piano keys bring to mind a field of grass and sunflowers blocked by a knee-high wooden fence, the kind you might find while driving during a warm early afternoon.
aakiins — “Trips”
Producer aakiins’ “Trips” has all the hallmarks of what most recognize as a contemporary lo-fi song: a steady distorted beat, warped vocal samples of a couple having an earnest conversation, a wailing synth in the background for just the right amount of drama. “Trips” is a well-crafted and soothing rendition of a classic formula, one that aakiins clearly holds in reverence.
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