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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lofi hip hop (also known as chillhop and lofi beats to study to[3]) is a form of downtempo music[4][5] that combines elements of hip hop and chill-out music.[6] It was popularized in the 2010s on YouTube.


Madlib, one of the originators of lo-fi hip-hop
Madlib, one of the originators of lo-fi hip-hop

Lo-fi hip-hop originated within the underground beatmaking hip-hop scene of the 2000s, particularly after the advent of Roland SP-303 and Roland SP-404 samplers, each of which featured the "lo-fi" effect as a separate button.[7] Roland SP samplers, particularly Boss SP-202, 303 and 404 were sporadically used by beatmakers and DJs since the early 2000s, but it was Madlib who arguably[according to whom?] paid stronger attention to the SP samplers, after showcasing them at his Red Bull Academy lecture in Brazil in 2002. It was also in Brazil in 2002 where Madlib created "Rhinestone Cowboy", "Raid", and "Strange Ways" for his 2004 collaborative album with MF DOOM called Madvillainy. The three mentioned beats were all composed using 303 and a tape deck.[8] Vice contributor Luke Winkie suggested that "if there is one shared touchstone for lo-fi hip-hop, it's probably [the 2004 MF Doom and Madlib album] Madvillainy".[9] Among the early adopters of the 404 stood Jneiro Jarel, who is credited as the first artist to use SP-404 in an official release, after releasing Three Piece Puzzle in 2005.[8]

The Japanese artist Nujabes, often called the "godfather of lofi hip hop",[10][11][12] is also credited with driving lofi's growth with his contributions to the soundtrack for the popular anime Samurai Champloo.[13] Another artist also often associated with the development of lofi is US rapper and producer J Dilla.[14][15] Lo-fi hip-hop's nostalgic aesthetic can also be traced back to the early work of Scottish electronic group, Boards of Canada.[16] The duo incorporated hip-hop grooves into their work and used vintage synthesisers and complex audio processing techniques to imitate the sounds of old educational videos and lo-fi mix tapes respectively.[17]

Emergence and popularity

In 2013, YouTube began hosting live streams, which resulted in 24-hour "radio stations" dedicated to microgenres such as vaporwave.[18] Compilation videos are also popular, combining the music with visuals that could take the form of recorded pedestrian walks through major cities like Tokyo, looping visuals from cartoons such as The Simpsons or Internet memes.[19] Spotify added to the popular "lo-fi beats" wave by generating "Spotified genres", including "Chill Hits", "Bedroom Pop" playlists, and promoting numerous "chill pop" artists.[4]

In 2017, a form of downtempo music tagged as "chillhop" or "lo-fi hip hop" became popular among YouTube music streamers. Most, if not all, of the content used in YouTube videos was primarily published on SoundCloud. By 2018, several of these channels had millions of followers. One DJ, Ryan Celsius, theorized that they were inspired by a nostalgia for the commercial bumpers used by Toonami and Adult Swim in the 2000s, and that this "created a cross section of people that enjoyed both anime and wavy hip-hop beats".[9] These channels equally functioned as chatrooms, with participants often discussing their personal struggles.[20] By 2018, Spotify's "Chill Hits" playlist had 5.4 million listeners and had been growing rapidly.[4]

Winkie credited YouTube user Lofi Girl (formerly known as "ChilledCow") as "the person who first featured a studious anime girl as his calling card, which set up the aesthetic framework for the rest of the people operating in the genre".[9]

Viewership of lo-fi hip hop streams grew significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic.[20] In April 2020, MTV News noted, "there might be something to be said for lo-fi hip-hop's composition, and the way its creators mix simplistic melodies with a judicious use of words to create intense memories, feelings, and nostalgia" and stated that the quarantine in place in various countries "has led people to log more hours online due to boredom or virtual workplaces and schools, and livestreamed music performances are reaching their full potential".[21]

Critical perspective

Many producers in the genre distanced themselves from the label, with detractors of the genre usually criticizing the music's perceived simple and clichéd sound.[22] Pitchfork contributor Philip Sherburne opined that the genre was "what happens when a generation raised on mood-based playlists definitively stops caring about what it listens to. [...] In the new millennium, even background music—like selling out before it—lost all negative connotations."[3]

See also


  1. ^ How Lofi Hip-Hop Will Inspire New Music In 2021 - Forbes
  2. ^ Jack Curtis Dubowsky (2021). Easy Listening and Film Scoring 1948-78. pp. 252–253. ISBN 9780429997679.
  3. ^ a b Sherburne, Philip (October 7, 2021). "25 Microgenres That (Briefly) Defined the Last 25 Years". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 24, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ a b c Werner, Ann (2020-01-02). "Organizing music, organizing gender: algorithmic culture and Spotify recommendations". Popular Communication. 18 (1): 78–90. doi:10.1080/15405702.2020.1715980. ISSN 1540-5702.
  5. ^ Staff. "Downtempo Music Guide: 5 Popular Downtempo Musical Acts". Masterclass. Retrieved 4 July 2021.
  6. ^ Maxwell, Dante (September 20, 2019). "Music Microgenres: A Brief History of Retrowave, Acid House, & Chillhop". Zizacious.
  7. ^ "Inside the SP Series". Roland Engineering. 3 April 2021.
  8. ^ a b Sorcinelli, Gori (12 August 2020). "How the SP-404 Came to Dominate the Global Beat Scene". Retrieved 9 November 2022.
  9. ^ a b c Winkie, Luke (July 13, 2018). "How 'Lofi Hip Hop Radio to Relax/Study to' Became a YouTube Phenomenon". Vice. Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  10. ^ ellenbemarc (1 May 2021). "Nujabes: The Godfather of Lofi". The Overlap.
  11. ^ Rinehart, J. D. (6 October 2022). "What is Lo-fi Hip Hop? Why is it So Popular?". Deep in the Mix. Retrieved 16 December 2022.
  12. ^ Chow, Aaron (20 February 2022). "Medicom Toy Celebrates Nujabes with 'FIRST COLLECTION' BE@RBRICK Set". Hypebeast. Retrieved 16 December 2022.
  13. ^ Anderson, Javon (25 August 2021). "The jazz roots of Nujabes, a pioneer of 'lofi hip hop'". Jazz.FM 91. Retrieved 16 January 2023.
  14. ^ iCouldBeYu (3 February 2022). "J Dilla: The GodFather of LoFi Hip Hop". Lofi Weekly. Retrieved 16 December 2022.
  15. ^ Yoder, Mark (27 March 2019). "J Dilla and Lo-Fi Hip Hop". Afterglow. Retrieved 16 December 2022.
  16. ^ Hart, Ron (23 August 2018). "How Boards of Canada's Debut Reached U.S. Shores & Quietly Changed the Course of Music". Billboard. Retrieved 16 December 2022.
  17. ^ Patrin, Nate (20 April 2018). "Music Has The Right To Children Turns 20". Stereogum. Retrieved 16 April 2022.
  18. ^ Alemoru, Kemi (June 14, 2018). "Inside YouTube's calming 'Lofi Hip Hop Radio to Relax/Study to' community". Dazed Digital.
  19. ^ Coleman, Jonny (May 1, 2015). "Quiz: Is This A Real Genre". Pitchfork.
  20. ^ a b Alexander, Julia (April 20, 2020). "Lo-fi beats to quarantine to are booming on YouTube". The Verge.
  21. ^ Mlnarik, Carson (April 1, 2020). "How Lo-Fi Beats's Nostalgic Comfort Transcended The Memes". MTV News. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  22. ^ Caraan, Sophie (March 23, 2020). "No One Wants to Claim Lofi Hip-Hop. So Why Is It Still so Popular?". Hype Beast.
This page was last edited on 19 January 2023, at 01:14
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