Lo-Fi Hip-Hop Is Everywhere And Meaningless
After the lo-fi hip-hop boom, a group of artists is looking to bring meaning and narrative back to the genre.
If you listened to music on YouTube over the past year, it's inevitable that you've encountered a lo-fi hip-hop.
However, the popularity of lo-fi has brought a number of detractors, and some feel the genre has become a parody of itself.
In the shadow of the lo-fi hip-hop backlash, a number of artists are trying to bring shape and story back to downtempo music.
"To be honest I don't actually really hate lo-fi," said Maël, a 23-year-old from France, who currently makes music under the name In Love With A Ghost. The "About" section on their YouTube page ends with "ps: i hate lo-fi hip-hop."
"It's more of a running meme, but it's mainly that in its current states I find it very uncreative and boring.
"The main problem is that it started as a sorta subculture of boom-clap hip-hop ... but then every sampled music with static recordings was put in the same category, and then anything close to ambient and downtempo came in too, creating that big meaningless mess that it is right now."
The concept of In Love With A Ghost is downtempo tracks, but ones that capture specific emotions or stories.
For example, two years ago, they had the idea for a track based around the concept of flowers.
Maël isn't the only musician trying to do something different with the broad, shapeless genre the lo-fi boom has created.
For both artists, their music exists outside the confines of YouTube or playlists that lo-fi hip-hop thrives in. It stands on its own.
The main difference, it seems, between the viral lo-fi mixes and the work of musicians like City Girl is that instead of providing ambient background music, the latter wants listeners to connect and become immersed in the worlds of their tracks.
"The names I give City Girl's songs are just my interpretation of what story I think the music is telling. Like, 'Clair de Lune' by Debussy sounds exactly like the moon, but I can almost guarantee he came up with that name after having written the piece. Instrumental music is in such a unique position in this regard, as one song can tell so many stories," they said.
For both, their projects and music will continue and evolve as long as people still find a connection with them, whether or not lo-fi continues to thrive.
"I think as long as this world has the power to make people feel a certain way, I'll be happy," said Maël.