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. The Lo-Fi Rap Snack Pack is a weekly column where we highlight four songs across the lo-fi spectrum. Listen to the Lo-Fi Snack Pack playlist for these selections and more.
Busta Rhymes — “True Indeed”
I’m a fan of rappers who rap about rapping and can make it exciting. It’s one reason New York legend Busta Rhymes’ long-awaited 10th studio album, Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God, feels so potent at its best. 30 years into his career, he’s still rapping for the sheer joy of it. This joy is most evident on the standout song “True Indeed,” where Busta gorges himself over a thumping DJ Premier beat. Busta Rhymes serves up a solid example of the simple pleasures found in smashing dope words together.
Dessy Hinds — “Before I Go Platinum”
Dessy Hinds has his sights aimed high. The Pro Era member’s confidence precedes him on “Before I Go Platinum,” the closing song from his latest EP, SAVE AS YOU GO. Hinds recounts his come up step-by-step over Tedd Boyd’s viscous beat, from meeting the late Capital Steez and smoking weed for the first time to counting show money on a tour bus. After listing his accomplishments, the song ends with a warped voice welcoming Dessy onto a radio show. The callers, the hit singles, and the stability are on Hinds’ mind, and “Before I Go Platinum” is his attempt at manifestation.
IKE — “Stay Awhile”
The perfect loop is a holy grail in production. Producer IKE is one of the millions currently on a quest to spin magic from beats. He gets close on “Stay Awhile,” one of three loose singles released last week. Each of the singles is color-coded, with “Stay Awhile” embracing light greens and blues on its cover. The song evokes the crisp waters and lush greenery of a brook running through secluded woods in the springtime. Even at just over a minute, the beat is both intimate and expansive.
Terence Drapes — “Sativa”
From conversations I’ve had with sativa fans, I can imagine it feels like cpt collective producer Terence Drapes’ beat for “Sativa.” It’s a stripped-back and focused production anchored by a pulsing drone, the kind that keeps you active even if you’re not entirely sure why. Stray sound effects and soft drums color the rest of the song, finding a steady groove with the fewest tools possible.