What is lo-fi music?

Music is life itself. Music often helps us connect to a part of ourselves that we somehow lose in the daily struggles of life. It is an escape for some, a grounding essence for others. Music is just a not-so-silent companion. It can be anything you want it to be.

I have always liked a dialogue, it goes something like, ‘Oh my darling, it’s true. Beautiful things have dents and scratches too.’ Perfectionism is an illusion that always makes us unhappy and imperfections can put our minds at ease.

You must be wondering why are we suddenly talking about imperfections? It is because that is exactly what lo-fi music or as the full form stands for low-fidelity music is. Let’s learn more about lo-fi music, shall we?

What is lo-fi?

Lo-fi is a sub-genre of electronic music that has become comfort music for many. It stands for low fidelity music which essentially means that it is low-quality music with audible imperfections. It is often also referred to as the opposite of hi-fi or high fidelity music which is the norm for mainstream music industries. However, a shift has been observed in the favour of lo-fi music in the mainstream industries as well in the last half-a-decade.

Lo-fi music has its roots way back in history. Earlier it used to be referred to as such when music was recorded on low-quality equipment and hence had imperfect elements like the background noise of maybe a fan, wind howling, kids playing, street noise, etc. They also included recording errors at times.

The aesthetic which stems from imperfections has now become intentional and attracts millions of listeners across the globe. Lo-fi has now stretched to accommodate not only unintentional imperfections but also the blues, jazz music, hip-hop beats, and much more. Go ahead and give it a try yourself!

Now, that you have heard a bit of lo-fi, let’s dive deep into the history of lo-fi.

History of lo-fi music

We have seen an impressive rise in the number of lo-fi listeners in the last decade. Many people believed it originated in the last decade but that is most definitely not true. Lo-fi has been around for more than half a century. Yes, it has undergone a lot of transformation for sure but that doesn’t change the fact it has been around for longer than most of us.

It is incredibly impossible to find out the exact origins of the genre. Although the first lo-fi recordings were created by a group of underground musicians in the 1990s, comparable DIY-inspired genres have existed since the 1950s. The music industry recognized this burgeoning trend early on, and major performers such as The Beach Boys and Paul McCartney included elements of lo-fi music in their work.

William Berger, a DJ on the independent radio station WFMU, is credited for coining the term “Lo-Fi.” Berger’s weekly show, ‘Low-Fi,’ focused on home recordings made with low-cost equipment. He popularized the term in 1986.

Fast forward to today, and various lo-fi artists are gaining popularity on YouTube, Spotify, and Soundcloud. We’re currently into Rejjie Snow, Bishop Nehru, and Chester Watson, but a fast search of the term “lofi music” on YouTube will provide thousands of results, ranging from single tracks to playlists and entire channels dedicated to it.

Some famous lo-fi artists

1. Powfu

With “Death Bed (coffee for your head),” lo-fi hip-hop music that reached No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles list in 2020, Canadian singer Powfu (real name: Isaiah Farber) had a massive hit.

2. Bishop Nehru:

Bishop Nehru is a rising star who is a protégé of rap legend MF DOOM. At the juvenile age of 12, Nehru began writing jazz songs and hip-hop instrumentals. He released his first mixtape, ‘Nehruvia,’ at the age of 16. Icons like Madlib, DJ Premier, and MF DOOM himself contributed to the mix.

3. Rejje Snow:

Rejjie Snow is a musician who makes music without constraints or regard to genre, whether it’s laid-back basic instrumentals or compositions that perfectly reflect the world of bedroom pop. In 2013, this Irish musician published his first EP. Since then, he’s worked on a variety of projects that demonstrate his abilities and complicated nature as an artist.

4. Chester Watson:

Chester Watson, a Florida youngster, has received a lot of praise and warranted comparisons to Earl Sweatshirt, Madlib, and MF DOOM. Listening to his debut EP from 2016, which was released in 2016, will help you comprehend the parallels. His music, on the other hand, is distinctively his own.

5. Swarvy:

We’d believe you if you said Swarvy was responsible for some of the Adult Swim interstitial music. This Los Angeles instrumentalist and producer has established himself as a vital producer for the new age of hip-hop musicians through his numerous projects. He’s also collaborated with other Lo-Fi rap singers like Loji to bring this subgenre to the forefront of mainstream music. Another benefit of this sort of music is that it may be enjoyed by anyone. Because the majority of music lack lyrics, nothing will ever be lost in translation.

Lo-Fi Music: The Secret to Focusing

Lo-fi music is used by many people to improve focus. They use it to focus on studies, on work, or just for even reading. There have been many memes in the same.

According to its designer, Eric Mathews, the acronym LO-FI stands for “low fidelity.” This is a sound recording with technical defects that make it sound different from the live sound being recorded, such as distortion, hum, background noise, or limited frequency response. These types of defects in music might activate the cerebrum, allowing a pupil to concentrate on a test or a homework task. 

The frontal lobe of the brain is the hub of most brain activity, and it’s where we grow as people. You can help your brain focus by listening to low-fi music. The brain detects changes in sound and, as a result, aids in the development of a focused attitude. It’s wonderful for when you need to cram but can’t seem to sit still because it gives your brain something to do.

Studies have shown that this type of music is beneficial to students and even adults at work. According to one survey, 86 percent of listeners have noticed a boost in their productivity and study habits.

Here are some lo-fi channels in English and Hindi for you to listen to:

1. Lo-fi girl:

His playlist starts with what is arguably YouTube’s most famous lo-fi radio station. The radio station of Lofi Girl is immediately identifiable by the looping video of a girl studying with her cat.

The channel attracts over 30,000 viewers on a daily basis, which is an astounding number for a live radio station and demonstrates its popularity. It’s easy to see why. This channel serves as a decent benchmark for what lo-fi music sounds like, whether you’re new to the genre or a seasoned veteran.

Lofi Girl is much more than a radio station.

2. Indian lo-fi song channel:

One of the famous Indian lo-fi channels. They have a wonderful selection of remixes and reverbs of fun Hindi and Punjabi songs. Feel and heal with these wonderful lo-fis.

3. Anime Vibe:

‘It all started as a hobby, but it’s turned into so much more.’

Anime Vibe began in 2013 and, a year later, launched on YouTube with a very specific target demographic. With a Lofi music library consisting solely of anime remixes, Anime Vibe has carved out a distinct niche in the market, with thousands of curious fans tuning in to hear these artists’ work.

Anime Vibe, along with Ikigai, is one of two channels launched by ‘The Chill Squad’ and specifically ADEN (an equally great channel that could have made it onto the list).

In addition to playing peaceful lo-fi music for its many subscribers, the channel has also helped numerous up-and-coming artists gain attention.

4. Fantastic Music:

Fantastic, based in France, advertise their music as Lofi, Lounge, Hip-Hop, Jazz, and More. It’s quite a departure from AnimeVibe, but it does so in a stunning manner. While Lofi or studying music is really about sound, it is also about evoking an atmosphere and a way of life. So, for example, if I’m listening to Japanese Lofi to unwind, I’d like to see artwork that reflects that. The beauty of Fantastic is that it has these scenarios in both music and artwork for almost any setting you can imagine. For example, one of these artistic covers, titled ‘Last Sunset | Chill & JazzHop,’ portrays someone with their feet poking out of the automobile as the sunsets.

5. Neotic:

Steven Gonzalez founded NEOTIC, a lofi hip hop YouTube channel with a gloomy tint, in Columbia. NEOTIC’s videos feature dismal beats and fragments of depressing language over depressing Simpsons pictures, making it a component of the meme-tastic Simpsonwave sub-genre of music.

NEOTIC also functions as a record label, with artists releasing songs under its name. So, if you like the music on the stream, keep an eye on NEOTIC’s social media for updates on the artists and their upcoming releases.


The subgenre will provide even more substantiation of what music industry insiders have long suspected. “It’s not because of 50 Cent that hip hop is the most popular music in the world right now,” Blackman argues. “It’s because people respond to the beat,” says the narrator.

Recommended Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.