The Rise of Lo-Fi Hip-Hop


Degraded audio signals, tape hisses, misplayed notes, and environmental interference are the key elements of lo-fi hip-hop, a chillwave music genre — and people are loving it.

Lo-fi hip-hop consists of phonographic imperfections that create a chill atmosphere that brings nostalgia you may have never felt before. It’s perfect to listen to while doing your daily tasks such as homework or even if you want to go to sleep. I for one find myself being more productive while listening lo-fi hip-hop, even though it gives lazy vibes. The irony of this music-genre is why I grew so interested in it. 

I first discovered this music genre while surfing the web on my living room couch in August heat and found myself at a YouTube channel that streams lo-fi hip-hop. “AnimeVibe” was the name of the YouTube channel, and I was in complete awe while listening to the songs they play. AnimeVibe first started its channel on October 31, 2014 and has been collaborating with aspiring artists since then. While listening to these songs, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic for rainy days with a mellow atmosphere while looking outside my window. 

The first song I heard on their AnimeVibe playlist was “rearview” by samsa. After listening to his songs, I couldn’t help but look for more songs by samsa. I became more and more interested in this type of music. And thus, I discovered lo-fi hip-hop. And it seems to be that more people are discovering lo-fi hip-hop as well. 

While this music naturally has a slow, mellow, and low-fidelity quality, it is surprisingly and subtly making its way into mainstream music. Late south Florida rapper XXXTentacion debuted with a mellow, solemn, and low quality soundtrack while rapping. Unlike the typical kind of rapper, X was following a different kind of path, changing the stereotypes of rappers in today’s society — and people loved it. When X released his debut album “17,” with track “Jocelyn Flores,” he showed affinity for lo-fi production, and people grew interested in what they were hearing. 

While lo-fi hip-hop can also be giddy and blissful, X does not portray that as his song, “Jocelyn Flores,” was about a friend of his who took her life, which makes the song very solemn and depressing. Later on in his music career, he creates more upbeat rowdy music while experimenting with the nature of lo-fi hip-hop.  

Now you’ll find chillhop/chillwave/chillout mixes on almost every music streaming service… This could help explain why lo-fi music has seen a modern day resurgence,” says John Greenfield, who frequently writes about internet and pop culture in his article, “[Music Discovery] An Exploration of the Lo-Fi Aesthetic.” It’s clear lo-fi hip-hop has become such a phenomenon — especially on YouTube since that is where the lo-fi hip-hop community is mainly based. 

I’m glad to see lo-fi hip-hop is helping artists accomplish their goal of hitting the charts on music streaming platforms such as Spotify. The number of listeners of Spotify’s playlist “Lo-fi Beats” has risen tremendously and continues to be an inspiration for aspiring artists. 

Whenever you have the time, check out Spotify’s playlist, “Lo-fi Beats” or any YouTube channel that live streams lo-fi hip-hop such as “ChilledCow” or “Bootleg Boy,” especially when you have work to do.

Surely, you’ll find an artist with a lo-fi hip-hop to add to your playlist.

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