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.
“P2 But It’s Lo-Fi” — Zeuz Makes Music (@zeuzmakesmusic)
Lil Uzi Vert’s Eternal Atake still gets heavy burn around these parts. In my 1-Listen review of the album, I wrote that closing track “P2” was a “heartfelt” sendoff to fans, but I haven’t felt a desire to return to it since. Nearly three months after its release, California producer Zeuz Makes Music has given the song a lo-fi remix. Uzi’s vocals are pitched down and cast out to float through twinkling synths and muffled drums. Zeuz’ remix takes the song from candy-colored rocketship to deep purple quasar pulsing in the distance. I’ll be back for more.
“Poached Pears” — brainorchestra feat. Lord Cartel (@_brainorchestra, @0hhLord)
New Jersey rapper/producer brainorchestra’s voice is a gust of winter wind. On “Poached Pears,” it billows through the chilly strings and sparse drums, powering the self-produced single. His voice is perfect for rapping lines like, “Been real since 007 held the golden gun.” Fellow Jersey rapper Lord Cartel matches his energy with an opening verse full of lyrical stabs, though none cut as deep as “Your raps are fable; as for me, I own my own label.”
“Clock Tower” — Henny L.O. & Ohbliv (@HennyLo_, @ohbliv)
On “Clock Tower,” a standout selection from Sages—Richmond, VA rapper Henny L.O.’s collaborative album with fellow Virginia producer Ohbliv—L.O. looks back on the Broad Rock streets that raised him with a smile and a wince. His block is where “the thugs cry in peace.” The crab legs and ramen noodles flow like wine. L.O.’s bittersweet nostalgia finds a home in Ohbliv’s beat, a swaying stack of percussion, keys, and wind chimes. Ohbliv’s music and L.O.’s words are enough to pull you off of your perch and back into your past.
“Terraform” — Jabbu (@urban_waves)
When writing about music, we tend to throw around the word “spacious” a lot, but Philadelphia producer Jabbu’s music sounds like an interstellar artifact. On his latest album, Before The Sun Take Rest, his blend of jazz, trip-hop, and ambient music is ideal for drifting away to parts unknown. Few songs on the album have the transportive power of “Terraform,” a twinkly highlight that wouldn’t sound out of place in a greenhouse on Mars. Synth keys move like forming bulbs, and the drums hold the track’s foundation. If humanity’s future in space feels anything like Jabbu’s “Terraform,” sign me up.