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.
Voli Contra — “Bless Up” feat. Alonda Rich
Voli Contra is grateful to have made it through an oppressive system in one piece. His latest single, “Bless Up,” a collaboration with vocalist Alonda Rich and producer Drumatik recorded by Young Guru and mixed by Anthony Cruz, utilizes a rich soundscape to examine grassroots perspectives on protest, the complex layers of racism, and class warfare in the midst of a global pandemic. Deep drums and warbling synths help Contra and Rich catch some remarkable flows. “Bless Up” understands the balance between urgency and groove.
Random Trance — “Tranquilvania”
Producer Random Trance bridges the gap between the digital and the analog. “Tranquilvania,” a single from their latest album Living Stardust, uses distorted trumpet, keyboard, and drums to approximate the 8-bit atmosphere of a game like Castlevania, which most likely inspired the song’s title. It brings to mind the first level of a vibrant platform game, sunny and bouncy enough to waste a few hours just marveling at its existence.
Dave Zup — “Moss (Instrumental)”
Dave Zup’s music is a wave of comforting vibrations. “Moss,” a song from his latest project, Vignettes (Instrumentals), pushes this atmosphere to the next level with a strong grasp on mood and groove. Guitars, synths, drums, and deep bass notes give the song an earthy quality, a mixture of dirt and moss you can practically smell as you wade through its beauty.
Jovybz — “Youfeelme?”
On “Youfeelme?,” producer Jovybz delivers a moment of warm reflection. The closing song from his latest album, Motion of Vybz, is a blend of piano keys and drums reminiscent of relaxing on a moonlit beach as you take in a friend’s weed-inspired thought. “Youfeelme?” sounds like the moment where time freezes and you’re able to let the vibe unfurl over your mind.
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