Beats to Relax/Study To: Contradiction and Paradox in Lofi Hip Hop



Distribution, Subculture, Participation, Genre, Internet, Hip Hop, YouTube, lofi hip hop, social media, subculture and scene, music in everyday life


Lofi hip hop is a musical genre which is distributed and mediated entirely via the internet, and which, to our knowledge, is currently unexamined academically. This article serves as an introductory investigation into the genre, which we hope may inspire further research and perhaps call into question existing trends in the analysis of “internet-born” music genres, which, as Adam Harper (2017) notes, often emphasize the degenerative effects of digital technology. We briefly define lofi hip hop stylistically and aesthetically, before exploring its contradictory relationship with nostalgia. We then consider the genre’s mediation and reception in terms of its participants’ relationship with the material conditions of late capitalism. We conclude that lofi hip hop is characterizsed by a series of complex paradoxes navigated effortlessly by its listeners, highlighting a shift in everyday reality amongst a generation of young people for whom the social internet is simply an ordinary part of life.

Author Biographies

Emma Winston, Goldsmiths, University of London

PhD candidate, Popular Music Research Unit, Goldsmiths, University of London

Laurence Saywood, Goldsmiths, University of London

PhD student, Popular Music Research Unit, Goldsmiths, University of London



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