If you have a day job, an evening study or a hobby that locks you to your desk for a couple of hours, you know the right setting is vital. That includes music.
Lo-fi hip-hop on YouTube is one of those magical places you can always go to for soothing sounds. And one Saturday when I just woke up a little earlier than usual, I decided to try my hand at it.
You might know the term lo-fi from the lo-fi hiphop beats to study or relax to. Originally lofi, or Lo-Fi (Low Fidelity), referenced to the way music was recorded. Where Hi-Fi (High Fidelity) strived to record music at the highest technical quality, resulting in a crystal clear sound, Lo-Fi was the opposite. The recordings often contained errors and glitches, and were in general of an amateurish unpolished level.
With the rise of DIY recording, which often meant using cheap technology and minimal production, the lofi sound started to grow from being an unforunate accident to a deliberate aesthetic or style.
Especially alternative indie rock started experimenting heavily with lofi sounds, which resulted in lofi often being referred to as an actual genre of music instead of a way of recording.
One could easily say hip-hop has as many links to lo-fi as alternative indie rock. A lot of hiphop in the 80s and 90s faced the same challenge of not having access to expensive technology. Loops were tagged onto each other, often re-recorded with subpar equipment in comparison to the lavish studios being used for pop music.
Artists like MF Doom and Wu Tang Clan embraced the sound, giving it a grimy and hard quality. With the addition of samples from movies and cultural references in their lyrics, they shaped the sound of what lo-fi hiphop is today. Still, the real father of lo-fi hiphop is J Dilla. His often imperfect sampling and drum rhythms are heard in nearly any lofi hip hop mix.
And finally no lo-fi hip hop mix would be complete without Nujabes. The Japanese producer has left a permanent mark on the jazzhop / chillhop scene with his tracks that were heavily influenced by the sounds of anime and aesthetics of manga.
This is where the whole thing kicked off... Mornings in the weekend are magical to me. Sometimes you miss them completely, sometimes you they feel like sh*t, and sometimes they are quiet moments for creation.
With the idea to just create 15 minutes of music, you don't really have time to think too much about it. 15 minutes are either five three minute songs, or six two and a half minute instrumentals. That was my only thought. That, and I need 15 minutes of crackling sounds.
The mix wasn't finished that very saturday, but it was created there.
The follow-up. It was liberating to make 15 minutes of music without thinking too much about whether it's perfect. So why not make another 15 minute lo-fi mix? I love Cowboy Bebop, so when I found some vocal samples from the show, I knew I had to use them.
I still love how it starts. The quote, the music. It's great. When I made the second track I knew I had to have Navi on there. I know her sample is overused in lo-fi, but I just had to do it. Playing Ocarina of Time is one of my favorite childhood memories.
All in all, it's a very mellow mix.
If you've made two mixes, then a third one is a no-brainer. For this one I decided to go hip-hop. All that really meant is that I looked online for some classic rap accapellas. I found some, and started making music.
The first track originally had a Big L sample. I removed it, because it felt a bit too much. But the track's title is still derived from that sample.
So YO! has a Fat Joe sample, while NOONE LIKE YOU is obviously Mos Def. He definitely was my favorite rapper when I was 15. I think that song he did with Pharaohe Monch did it for me. SWV closes off.
Another week, another mix. This one was going to be the final one. It was also the most draining one. Having already made 45 minutes of music in three weeks, making another 15 minutes of music was tough. Especially since I wanted it to be better than the previous ones.
Not sure how I got to the first track, but it's still one of my favorites. It reminds me a bit of Onra, which for me is really cool.
Method Man in the second track is always nice. That worked out quite well. The remaining tracks were more difficult for me. I had some set-ups, but I wasn't sure about them. Only the final track I kind of completed. In the end it worked out okay.
Diddy is a bit off with his raps btw. Blame Diddy, not me :p