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.
“Say The Name” — clipping.
clipping. has acquired a taste for the spooky throughout their career. Their last two projects—2016’s Wriggle EP and especially their 2019 full-length album, There Existed An Addiction To Blood—dripped with horrorcore elements the California trio hadn’t explored in the past. On “Say The Name,” the lead single from their upcoming fourth studio album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, clipping. leans further into body horror with images of devils conceiving babies and junkies left to deal with the “hairline fractures” of the War on Drugs. Rapper Daveed Diggs’s voice keeps the fantastical tethered to Earth while producers Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson’s synthetic drums and pitched down flip of a stray Scarface line combine to create a dirge of chills and thrills.
“Eloquent Listening” — Vic Spencer x SonnyJim
Vic Spencer and SonnyJim live for life’s simple pleasures: a new pair of kicks, some dank weed, and merely being the coldest motherfuckers breathing. This mutual appreciation makes the Chicago rapper and the London rapper/producer one of the breeziest duos in the game today. An album series like Spencer For Hire, the third volume of which dropped last week, can only come from natural chemistry. On “Eloquent Listening,” Spencer and SonnyJim’s chemistry shines brightest as Spencer raps about how being the weed man is better than being a landlord over SonnyJim’s soulful loop. Like their best songs, “Eloquent Listening” balances cartoonish grit with style, another example of why this picture-perfect rap crime-fighting duo should bankroll as many seasons of adventures as possible.
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“Southside Fade” — reggie
reggie’s feel for the groove runs deep. On the Houston singer’s new single, “Southside Fade,” he allows the muted drums and washed-out guitars to crest over him like a wave. At the same time, he waxes about “parking lot pimpin’” and the efficacies of the titular business end of a pistol. “Gun violence don’t really exist ‘round here / But you can still catch the southside fade,” he says. reggie’s voice manages to capture the balance of chill and anxiety embedded in the 2020 experience, where death hovers quietly over life’s most sacred pleasures more than ever.
“Chromatic Delusion” — Seycara Orchestral
Seycara Orchestral is a hybrid the likes of which I’ve never heard. The brainchild of classically trained musician Yuang Chen, Seycara’s music combines the dreamy synths of bedroom lo-fi and chiptune sounds with the swelling lushness of a live orchestra. It’s an ambitious combo that stands out strongest on a song like “Chromatic Delusion,” made up of twilight sparkles and the mounting stillness of night time. It’s a sedate track perfect for restless nights and early mornings, the lightest ear candy this side of a Chilled Cow playlist.
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.