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 highlighting four songs across the lo-fi spectrum. Listen to the Lo-Fi Snack Pack playlist for these selections and more.
Mach-Hommy — “Magnum Band” feat. Tha God Fahim
Mach-Hommy is tired of holding his tongue on the mountaintop. He says as much on the opening of “Magnum Band,” a song from his highly anticipated Griselda reunion album Pray For Haiti. What follows is a nearly three-minute volley of acidic bars, some of the most plain and direct of Mach’s career: “Catching stray bullets, I know that shit stinging,” “Picture niggas reaping the benefits off Mach-Hommy hype / Tryna see capital off the steez like Jonny Shipes.” He and frequent collaborator Tha God Fahim push their way through Messiah Musik’s stormy beat, proving once and for all that the dump gawds are nothing to fuck with.
Wakai — “Proud Family” feat. redveil
Louisiana rapper Wakai and Maryland rapper redveil use “Proud Family,” a standout single from Wakai’s collaborative album Away Game Vol. 2 with producer Wavworld, to confide in each other after respective periods of doubt. The two MCs lose themselves over Wavworld’s dreamy loop, rapping about breaking through ignorance and the risks of living in dangerous cities just to have something to write about.
Jack Mills — “6 Love”
Producer Jack Mills’ album Distortion is a kaleidoscopic dedication to the craft of hip-hop. This passion is most evident on “6 Love,” a song that bristles with booming energy. The beat consists of piano melodies, synths, and bludgeoning drums—leaping out at you with startling speed like a long-lost friend closing in for a hug. It’s comforting, the kind of song that could only be made with real love.
Kaymor — “Skate”
Skateboarding, much like beat-making, is a meditative act. Producer Kaymor closes the distance between these two activities on his breezy new single “Skate.” Backed by a suite of percussion, including drums, cowbell and shakers, swelling synths, and what sounds like an ocean current, it brings to mind a leisurely cruise around the park instead of a rousing trip up the halfpipe. It’s the perfect song for those of us who are ready to surrender to the steady hum of spinning wheels on concrete.