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.
“Crescendo In The Window” — Sadhugold
I’m a sucker for a fantastic loop. The best loops are hypnotic, drawing you into a small yet potent world measured in golden seconds stretched out to platinum minutes. Pennsylvania producer Sadhugold’s loops consistently fit this mold, but “Crescendo In The Window,” a standout selection from his latest beat tape Golden Joe Season Two, is transcendent. The regal loop—sparse piano and drums over some vinyl crackle—opens a crystalline portal elegant enough to float through for its four-and-a-half-minute runtime. Sadhugold understands the beauty of simplicity.
“Weed In LA” — The Koreatown Oddity
The Koreatown Oddity sees life through cel-shaded glasses. “Weed In LA,” a highlight from the California rapper’s latest album, Little Dominique’s Nosebleed, depicts the Koreatown Oddity as a living, breathing organism pushing through the good and the bad of life. His LA is one where weed is legal but Black people are still “locked up on intent to sell.” It’s not hard to smell the fried gizzard cooking in his kitchen as a child or feel the asphalt beneath the wheels of his father’s car while he plays the Temptations. Koreatown Oddity’s childhood details pop against a whimsical piano loop, ruling over a world both Dr. Seuss and Murs could find comfort in.
“Laugh” — Sarcastic Sounds
Sarcastic Sounds isn’t afraid to mix styles. While the Toronto producer/singer may be best known for co-producing Lil Wayne’s “Mahogany” from 2020’s Funeral, his latest single, “Laugh,” is a touch more eclectic. A flurry of fuzzy drums, guitar, and keyboard creates a soothing atmosphere for coos about finding reasons to laugh in an unforgiving world: “Pick myself up from the pieces / And find another reason to pull through / But my head is underwater.” “Laugh” is a melancholy blend of rap, emo, and pop sure to set any silent disco on fire.
“Sticks & Stones (Riddim)” — Jubal
A good riddim goes a long way. Just ask producer/singer Jubal, whose song “Sticks & Stones,” a standout from their latest release, Babl Radio: An Extended Triplist, works a groove down to its very bones. The chopped voice of singer Gravitee leads the song off before a thumping low-end and clapping drums create a sturdy riddim impossible to resist. “Sticks & Stones” is irresistible, sounds great through any speaker, and will have you dancing whether you’re standing up or in a seat. Jubal’s command of the groove is staggering.
The Lo-Fi Rap Snack Pack is available in playlist form on Audiomack, Apple Music, and Spotify. Please consider donating to these various racial justice organizations or The Okra Project, an organization dedicated to helping feed Black trans youth.