Lo-fi Hip Hop — Study Beats Taking Over YouTube

Prior to 2017, you may have never heard the term “lo-fi hip hop” let alone tuned in to its regular streaming via sites like YouTube and Spotify. Characterized by lengthy descriptive song titles, and it’s nostalgic “low-fidelity” sound, with rhythmic distortion of vinyl record scratches, coughs, sighs, and other unique tones that appeal to a wide range of listeners, “lo-fi hip hop” has begun to take its rightful place in the music streaming world.

Google interest trends prove that the early months of 2017 were the beginning of a worldwide spread of the “lo-fi” music trend, which has since nearly quadrupled in size, and remained on a steady ebb and flow in search volume. Soundcloud artists, arming their EPs and singles with anime-themed album artwork, are fulfilling an endless need for relaxing, nostalgic music to their listeners. Though the “lo-fi hip hop” music scene has been saturated with thousands upon thousands of creative takes on the genre, powerhouses include In Love With A Ghost, Emune, J Dilla, Milo, Nujabes, and countless others in a lengthy list of honorable mentions.

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“Lo-fi hip hop” coincides with the younger generations concept of aesthetics, where many have begun to incorporate and borrow concepts and clothing styles from South Korean and Japanese fashion industries. The global leader in “lo-fi hip hop” listeners is South Korea, making up for a huge portion of search engine hits. As seen by the K-Pop music scene, South Korea has begun to make massive influences both musically and aesthetically on Western culture. Japanese nostalgia has also become increasingly more popular in recent years, even by those who hadn’t been interested in anime culture in the early to mid-90s. “Lo-fi” artists have taken note of this interest in nostalgic anime culture, using it to their advantage as a way to attract regular listeners.

Themes taken from various genres, including everything from jazz piano riffs, to acoustic math rock guitar, to philosophic rants of Alan Watts, “lo-fi hip hop” is a dynamic and evolving genre, providing its listeners with a unique musical depiction of what it means to be young in 2019. In a youth culture driven by nostalgia, aesthetics, and productivity, “lo-fi hip hop” is the perfect soundtrack, available on a steady 24-hour loop, ready to relax, inspire, motivate, and everything in between.