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 Snack Pack, a weekly column where we highlight four songs across the lo-fi spectrum.
“No Seat 4 U” — maassai (@Maassai_)
maassai isn’t waiting for people to join her lunch table. The Brooklyn rapper and multidisciplinary artist kicks meditative raps to self-motivate above all others. “They be tryna take the juice, use me up,” she sighs on “No Seat 4 U,” the centerpiece of her latest EP/art installation companion, C0n$truct!0n 2: The Caution Tape. Over a fuzzy loop courtesy of Bronx rapper/producer Caleb Giles, maassai sings and raps for her right to claim space within New York’s ever-growing underground. With any luck, “No Seat 4 U” will have more heads lining up to see her on her terms.
“Smoothie Sax” — witSmusic (@witSmusic43) & Smitty! (@TheRealCamSmit)
A groove is a hard thing to find. For artists witSmusic and Smitty!, creating one from the ground up is akin to painting an amber-hued sunset on canvas. “Smoothie Sax,” an all-too-short groove on the duo’s latest project, Chops & Memos, has all the makings of a good groove painted onto the ears: a crispy drum loop, synth waves, a guitar pluck, and keys sparkling like stars over a beach at dusk. “Smoothie Sax” finds its pocket and doesn’t let go over two minutes worth of lo-fi loop bliss.
“Seeds of Love” — Amore Bey (@amorebey13)
Amore Bey was born to put pen to pad. “Been making tunes since I was in mama’s womb,” he spits at the beginning of “Seeds of Love,” the title track of his latest project of the same name. The Texas-based artist’s relationship with the mic scans as therapeutic; his words flow through producer Tao Bey’s warm guitar-based loop like butter melting onto freshly cut biscuits. Amore spends the song counting the blessings of existence: “Don’t look outside yourself for nothing / It’s all inside, baby, when you feel that heart bumpin’.” Planting the seeds of love proves to be relative. In Amore’s eyes, the ability to sit by the water and reflect on your thoughts is the greatest gift of all.
“2getha4eva (New S.M.A.C.K. DVD)” — Radicule (@RadiculeBeats)
What’s the first thing you picture when you hear the words “Smack DVD?” I hear crowded rap battles packed to the brim with bars meant to decapitate. When NY-based producer Radicule thinks of Smack DVD, he thinks of sturdy drums and synths reminiscent of 90s-era Mary J. Blige. “2getha4eva (New S.M.A.C.K. DVD)” is a Wonder Ball of a record with a surprise on the inside I can’t say I was expecting. Still, listening to a loop digger redefine a childhood classic is quite enjoyable.