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. This article previously appeared on Audiomack World.
th1rt3en & Pharoahe Monch — “Oxygen”
New York rap legend Pharoahe Monch and his new band th1rt3en—composed of drummer Daru Jones and guitarist Marcus Machado—are looking for salvation. “Oxygen,” a standout from their debut album A Magnificent Day For An Exorcism, inspires passion that oozes from the speakers. The guitars, drums, and even Monch’s vocals are reverbed and distorted as he pleads for affection and nourishment in multisyllabic words: “My oxygen, aperitive or an opulent, indigenous occupant / Angelic in your moccasins with the kinetic acumen to rid me of my toxins.” th1rt3en’s rap-rock hybrid shows a passion for both genres that matches the love Monch craves like fresh air.
Breeze Brewin — “King Oxymoron”
Breeze Brewin loves putting words together, even after three decades of rapping. The New York rapper and Juggaknots co-founder’s long-awaited debut album, Hindsight, is full of lyrical gymnastics bolstered by sturdy breakbeats. “King Oxymoron” explores the titular figure of speech through various situations, breaking down the irony of being persecuted for free speech, job security, and love children born into worlds of hate. Producer Marco Polo provides a bed of drums and flutes fit for a true king of wordplay.
Saib — “Elevation”
Producer Saib attempts to capture the feeling of floating through the air on his latest single, “Elevation.” His drums, synth chords, and guitar strums create a calm atmosphere; the song wafts through the air like the scent of a freshly baked pastry. “Elevation” may not actually make listeners take flight, but it sure comes close.
BhramaBull — “Polar Ice Caps”
California-based producer BhramaBull’s music sounds victorious. “Polar Ice Caps,” a cut from his latest project, Rona 3 [Instrumentals], brings to mind the fever pitch of a high-profile boxing match, the drums and piano keys thumping and thudding waiting for two fighters to enter the ring. This motif is matched by a vocal sample at the end boldly declaring, “I’m gonna be here tomorrow and I’ll be here the next day.”