Lo-Fi Music: What you need to know


lofi pic
Photo: Latouch

It seems like every time I hop onto Youtube I am now constantly inundated with videos such as ‘Lofi Hip Hop radio 24/7’, so what is it about Lo-fi music and why haven’t I heard about it properly until now, well I did some investigating.


Lo-fi music, essentially stands for Low Fidelity music meaning the sound recorded is at a lower quality than the usual contemporary standards.

The term Lo-Fi was adopted in late 1986 by DJ William Beyer.


It’s roots really kicked off around the late 80’s and 90’s and grew to become not just a ‘type’ of recording quality but rather an entire ‘genre’ in itself.

Throughout rock and roll history, past recordings were often done cheaply on substandard equipment.

But in the 80’s American underground music scene the Lo-Fi music sound and scene in general, really climbed. With bands like R.E.M popping up and even New Zealand bands like ‘the Chills and the Clean.’


It’s fair to say that Lo-Fi music has been around for decades, but prefers to take the back seat when it comes to mainstream music.

There tends to be this authenticity to the music that is not commonly found in the abundance and preferred choice of high-quality professional recordings nowadays.

Rather the sounds are similar to something recorded in someone’s garage or basement (but not in a bad way).

Lo-Fi hip hop is probably the most common playlists you will see pop up on Youtube.

Urban Dictionary describes Lo-Fi Hip Hop as a ‘subliminal sub-genre of conscious hip hop, characterised by the utilisation of introspection, high distortion and even mellow sounds all done to assist in engaging with elements of human emotion.

Put simply, the development of Lo-Fi hip hop is breaking moulds with its free-form structure and arty experimentation, as heard through thin quality recordings, layers of tape distortions and hiss’ which is sometimes completed with lyrics of a more abstract and obtrusive nature.

Perhaps this surge in Lo-Fi playlists on media platforms is a way in which society is expressing their boredom with perfection, particularly when it comes to music production.

Rather one could argue that Lo-Fi adds character and soul, that is often lost in the ‘perfectionism’ production of music nowadays.


So, yes not everyone is going to like the ‘Lo-Fi sound’, it is very different, raw and far from the mainstream tunes we constantly hear replayed over and over again on the radio.

Although many of us may not be aware, there is indeed a talented presence of Lo-Fi hip hop producers in Australia, particularly in Melbourne. Take a listen of some of my personal favourites below:


Ra Ra Raj

Walla C


But for me, listening to Lo-Fi music has opened both my eyes and ears to a whole other side and understanding of music in general. Clearly, this is a ‘genre’ not concerned with the ‘airtime’ or popularity, and yes, it’s a little left-field but it paints a more down-to-earth sound.

Essentially, this music is nostalgic in that it warps these golden old sounds, spanning from VHS tapes to old video game sounds, into something a little more modern which is unique and special particularly in today’s music age.


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