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.
Pink Siifu & Fly Anakin — “Tha Divide” feat. Zelooperz, MAVI & Koncept Jack$on
The appeal of Pink Siifu and Fly Anakin’s collab album FlySiifu’s lies in its laid-back atmosphere revolving around the loose concept of the titular record shop. Their latest EP, $mokebreak, expands their universe like a short film attached to the end of a feature-length movie. Standout “Tha Divide” is a huge posse cut where the duo, alongside guests Zelooperz, MAVI, and Koncept Jack$on, toast over producer ewonee’s warm horn loop. It’s the kind of song where every rapper has the best verse, a space where the stakes are low but the vibes are high.
OG Spliff — “Still”
Polo Perks Is Building a Future From Pieces of the Past
We talk to the Surf Gang artist about microdosing alternative music in his raps.
OG Spliff’s cool demeanor hides billowing confidence. The North Carolina rapper’s nimble flows have kept the steady stream of singles he’s released since last year pleasantly unpredictable. He upholds that streak on his latest single, “Still,” where he talks about money problems and love in a triplet flow reminiscent of Isaiah Rashad over producer OLSC’s jazzy bass and drum loop. Guests Sonny Miles and LestheGenius add tonal balance to the song’s backend, completing a cipher that’s bound to keep you intoxicated.
Drew Dave — “SpecialHerb(4DOOM)”
Nearly three months after learning of his death, I still miss MF DOOM. The impact the supervillain had on every corner of hip-hop culture has manifested in fascinating ways in 2021. Maryland producer Drew Dave adds his own tribute to the pile with “SpecialHerb(4DOOM),” a standout song from his latest beat tape, Late Shift. Dave flips the sample from DOOM’s “Monosodium Glutamate,” more commonly known as the beat for the Operation: Doomsday song “Rhymes Like Dimes,” into a hazy slow jam with a handful of vocal samples sprinkled throughout. DOOM’s art has clearly touched Dave as his tribute moves with the same surreal ear for adventure.
kingasmr — “pyramid secrets”
ASMR is a phenomenon that feels uniquely well-suited to the world of beatmaking. Producer kingasmr takes advantage of the sense of intimacy shared by both ASMR and lo-fi on the loose single “pyramid secrets.” Horns, drums, and bells carry the ears through a nocturnal atmosphere capable of making all the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. You can almost feel the sheen of moonlight flickering off of the sand.