Lofi beats are a production style characterized by warm, relaxed beats, often slowed down and heavily chopped. Lofi beats combine the laidback sounds of hip-hop and chill out music with low fidelity (lofi) production. It is also common for lofi beats to have an emphasis on samples from jazz music. Lofi beats can also be described as a genre that focuses on producers trying to make their beats sound extremely raw and homemade. Opaque beats and hazy, dusty samples that have been slowed down in speed to give the beats a more euphoric, spaced out vibe are some of the characteristics of the lofi sound. The beats are often subtly psychedelic and often very downtempo. This is a form of hip-hop that is electronically inspired and usually has a nostalgic feel.
Although it hasn’t been around for long, lofi beats are surging in popularity and finding new listeners every day. Despite its popularity and success, many people don’t know where this type of music comes from.
Lofi hip-hop originated within the underground beat making hip-hop scene, after the advent of Roland SP-303 sampler and Roland SP-404 sampler, each of which featured the “lo-fi” effect as a separate button. In the early 2000’s, new technology emerged which allowed for the easy tracking, manipulation and playback of audio. Most notably, the Roland SP-303 came with a “lo fi” effect which would record sound from vinyl and play it back at a low bitrate to emulate the sound of old records. Inspired by this equipment, lofi beats were born.
When it comes to lofi beats, there are many producers and groups that stand out as pioneers of the scene, including Madlib, J Dilla and Boards of Canada. This playlist will help you jump into the world of lofi beats through some of the most iconic tracks that helped spawn this popular sub-genre, as well as some newer tracks that exemplify the sound.