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How to make a Lo-Fi Hip Hop
19th July, 2023

How To Make A Lo-Fi Hip-Hop Beat

Lo-fi hip-hop has been increasing in popularity among music enthusiasts, artists and DJs in recent years. Thanks to its laid-back, nostalgic and pleasant vibe, it’s become a go-to genre of music for playing in any chilled, relaxed and comfortable atmosphere.

As a DJ, you’ll likely experiment with lo-fi hip-hop beats over the course of your career. To help you out, we’ve put together this guide about all things lo-fi hip hop: What it is, why you should experiment with it, and how to get started.

What is a Lo-Fi Hip Hop Beat?

Lo-fi hip-hop is a genre of music that combines different elements from both hip-hop and lo-fi. Artists creating these beats use warm sounds and vintage acoustics, often by using vinyl crackles, intentional sound imperfections and low-fidelity samples. Typically, the genre uses a slow-to-mid tempo groove, melodic samples and relaxed drum patterns. 

Lo-Fi Hip-Hop bpm

Lo-fi is a genre designed to slow everything down and thus typically begins with a simple, relaxed hip-hop beat. The tempo here ranges from 60 to 90 bpm. Some tracks slow down lower than 60 bpm but rarely do they go above 90 bpm or they lose the chilled, relaxed energy that forms the base of their appeal.

Using Lo-Fi Hip-Hop

While lo-fi hip-hop beats can suit a wide variety of contexts, its soothing nature and nostalgic qualities lend it to being a particular genre of choice for relaxed atmospheres, whether you’re socialising, unwinding, working or studying. 

More recently, lo-fi hip-hop beats have become a staple in online media. Many influencers, vloggers and other individuals turn to this genre for their vlogs, podcasts, video content and social media posts to help set the right mood and tone for their audiences.

A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Gather Your Tools

Without the right equipment – hardware and software – creating music is going to be pretty difficult. A Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is a must. Programs such as Ableton Live, FL Studio or Logic Pro are widely used and highly recommended.

These software programs give you the necessary tools and computer plugins to produce lo-fi hip-hop beats. Many also provide access to libraries and collections of track samples, such as drum sounds, melodic loops and even vinyl crackles. All of these samples will make your DJing and music creation much easier. 

Alternatively, if you’re making your own samples, you’ll need the right equipment for that as well. There are independent online platforms that you can use to either create or access samples as well. 


Step 2: Start with the Drum Beat

The drum beat is the foundation of a lo-fi hip-hop track. Create a drum pattern that reflects the laid-back, chilled nature of the genre. Consider what emotion or experience you’re looking to elicit and choose a drum kit that is suitable for that vibe.

Even simple drum patterns can use a combination of everything from kicks and snares to hi-hats and percussion. So, give yourself time, space and permission to experiment a little until you find the perfect loose drum beat.


Step 3: Add Melodic Elements

With the drum pattern laid down, you can begin to add in melodic elements. Lo-fi hip-hop often infuses soulful melodies and even jazz samples. Have a look through the sample library you’re accessing to see what sort of melodic elements you can use to creative effect. If you are playing around on virtual instruments, you can find your own melodies that work, create atmospheric pads or experiment with mellow chords. 

There’s an infinite range of possibilities and combinations when it comes to your melodic loops. Follow your intuition and your ear until you achieve the elements that best resonate with the mood of your beats.


Step 4: Apply Lo-Fi Effects

There is a distinct sound to the lo-fi genre, and now is the time to apply that unique addition. Use the effects available in your programs and on your gear to apply typical lo-fi effects, such as a degraded quality and vintage sound. Simple, subtle tape hiss samples or vinyl crackling can emulate the feel (and sound, of course) of old vinyl records and add an element of warmth to the music.

Even using EQ to roll off the higher frequencies can soften the overall sound of the track. Keep your effects subtle and discretionary whether it’s distortion, saturation or even a bit-crushing effect. The aim here is to achieve a unique sense of musical character.


Step 5: Add Layers and Textures

You’re now heading towards the end of the process of creating your very beats. Consider how much depth your track has and what sort of atmosphere it creates. Do you need to add additional layers? Does it need a bit more texture?

Ambient sounds, field recordings and even some vocals can be the extra elements that your track needs. As with the steps above, it’s important that you take the time and exercise your creative muscles here. Experiment and play around so that you feel free and empowered to find the right fit for your track. 

Finally, to help you produce the best lo-fi hip-hop beats, here’s a list of the various industry-standard equipment, hardware, and software options available. 

Digital Audio Workstations (DAW)

Your choice of DAW depends largely on your preference and needs. Popular options include:

  • Ableton Live – good for live performances and versatile music creation.
  • FL Studio – very user-friendly and has lots of built-in effects.
  • Logic Pro – particularly good for Mac users and has an intuitive interface and large track library. 
MIDI Controllers

MIDI controllers enable you to use virtual instruments with your DAW. Popular options include: 

  • Akai MPK series
  • Novation Launchpad
Audio Interfaces

These accessories connect your computer to external audio equipment and recording devices. There’s a wide range of audio interfaces available, so we highly recommend you check out our selection right here at DJ City for the best products on the market. 

Studio Monitors or Headphones

Accurately listening to your track while you’re experimenting is critical. Make sure to check out our range of monitors and headphones today.

Need a hand with your Lo-Fi Hip Hop beats? You can’t beat DJ City!

The DJ City team love helping connect our customers with the best equipment at the best prices so they can begin their music journey as soon as possible. If you’d like to find out about what sort of software or hardware you need to get started in lo-fi hip hop, get in touch with our team today.

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