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.
“,NEGRO” — Pink Siifu (@PinkSiifu)
Soul samples are a different kind of soothing. They sneak through the body and bring warmness to everything they touch, audio affirmations for any wayward traveler. Pink Siifu is familiar with this sensation: “This that good for the soul, this that soul food,” the Birmingham, Alabama rapper whispers at the beginning of “,NEGRO,” the self-titled track from his latest album. Over a sedate loop taken from Eddie Kendricks’ 1977 classic “Intimate Friends,” Siifu finds comfort in the simple things: hard work, honesty, and a spliff strong enough to bust his whole damn forehead. The song is an outlier amongst the album’s more punk-fueled atmosphere but is no less cathartic. Sometimes, nourishing the Black soul is the best revenge.
[Editor’s Note: Yes, there should be a comma before “NEGRO.”]
“potion (blend)” — lojii feat. Versis (@_lojii, @Swarvy)
Rapper Lojii and producer Swarvy are a model rap duo. The Philadelphia natives manage to navigate the contours of each other’s work and create rap bliss more magnificent than the sum of its parts. Their 2017 collab, Due Rent, channels hustle-and-bustle energy through sepia-toned beats, mixing samples, and live instruments meant to keep necks bobbing. Earlier this month, the duo released two “blends” of Due Rent songs, reimaginings with deeper, sturdier grooves. Swarvy’s guitars and choral samples on “potion (blend)” billow like spliff smoke in the spring air as Lojii lays down life lessons he’s absorbed in real-time.
“Rectifiya” — KeiyaA (@keiyaa_, @t6mikee)
KeiyaA’s music washes over you in waves. To hear the New York-via-Chicago artist’s debut album, Forever, Ya Girl, is to understand life’s pains and pleasures swirling around the point where rap and R&B meet for an afternoon deli sandwich. On the standout song “Rectifiya,”—co-produced by MIKE—KeiyaA’s voice hovers over the shadowy horns and damp drums, spinning poetry out of romantic foibles. “These niggas on my back like white on rice / Claiming they get healing from my energy / But baby, I need them to reciprocate,” she coos, with her measured vocals selling her intent. KeiyaA finds power in the desire to be seen on her terms.
“Twittr.Beats” — Drew Dave (@DrewliusDave)
The right instrumental loop can inspire magic behind the boards. Alexandria, VA producer Drew Dave approached artist Keenyn Omari on Twitter, who tweeted a video of himself playing the piano with a simple message: “sample this.” Taken by the music, Dave turned it into “Twittr.Beats,” a standout song from his latest beat tape Focused. Three sloping piano loops make up the song’s body while drums and vocal samples ground the song in reality. Though “Twittr.Beats” was born of the internet; the song feels earthy and lived-in like a perfectly preserved record being cracked open for the first time.