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.
“fortune teller” — MIKE (@t6mikee)
MIKE’s crystal ball foretells prosperity. For the past two months, the New York rapper has been on an active streak, one his latest single, “fortune teller,” keeps alive. Much like April’s “REGRETS,” the negativity in MIKE’s life is firmly in the past: “Too many demons grew with me, let a lot die,” he says with his chest. The beat—a soulful horn loop self-produced under his dj blackpower moniker—is as sunny and swift as the cherry on a shared spliff. There’s more pep in MIKE’s step, and it translates to one of his bluntest boasts ever: “Kid, I’m top five.” Talk your shit, king.
“Dark Mode” — Userdeleted_95 (@userdeleted_95 on IG)
My life changed forever when I switched most of my apps to dark mode. The same thing happened when I pressed play on the song “Dark Mode,” by New Jersey rapper/producer Userdeleted_95. Over syncopated drums and haunting keys, the song’s lyrics deal with staying lowkey (“I need a break from them / I need my money to stack”) and keeping friends in his thoughts (“Niggas be goin through shit / I gotta pray for them”). User is rapping to clear his cluttered mind. After all, the appeal of dark mode is stripping one’s viewing experience down to its bare essentials, and what’s more essential than money, friends, and grinding?
“Tifa’s Theme” — Rifti (@RiftiBeats)
The Final Fantasy VII Remake has been a heaping plate of nostalgia. The JRPG’s soundtrack is one of the most iconic of all time, so naturally, producers have blessed us with an infinite number of remixes. New York-based producer Rifti carries on the tradition with his imagining of the theme song for character Tifa. The song, initially a swelling orchestral arrangement, is buoyed by a handful of loops and steady drums fit for dozing off on a warm night. This remix is indicative of Tifa’s character, a recluse who only lets her guard down when night falls, and her brain can wander.
“Dragonfruit hi-chew” — duckie (@whotfisduck)
duckie doesn’t have time for the bullshit. The New Orleans-via-Minneapolis rapper is only concerned with getting his mind right and making his life look easy. “I don’t be doin much, still you can’t fuck with me,” he says with the audio equivalent of a finger wave. Over producer payforluv’s grimy soul chop, duckie keeps his style grounded and relatable. He might split his time between the South and Minnesota. But when he touches down in either city, it’s his lady and his homies. That’s it.