I was firstly exposed to lofi hip hop back in 2014 just a year after we started Stereofox. I had been listening to J Dilla and Nujabes prior to that, but just I don't think I was ever in a frenzy fan mode. And again, I think the lofi beats today while stemming from their legacy, sound quite different.
At that time the 2015-16 hype around the genre was non-existent, it was just one of many genres and Chillhop Music was still a music reviews website and not a record label.
I remember I wasn't really in love with it at first, but once I interviewed people like Birocratic and Brock Berrigan and got to dive into their beats, that's when things started to change for me. Not that they ever made actual lofi hip hop, but you know - chillhop and all that. Anyway, my journey and relationship with lofi hip hop and beat-driven music is not the focus of today's feature, so I'll move on.
Also, if you want to check our chillhop and lofi selection on Spotify, drop by the Chill Beats playlist.
What is lofi hip hop?
If you had spent more than a few hours listened to music on YouTube in the past year, it's highly likely that you've stumbled upon a lo-fi hip-hop radio. They tend to employ anime-inspired looped visuals set either somewhere in Japan or at least in a rather mellow / rainy / cozy home environment. You know, study and chill kind of vibes. But before digging into my favourite streams, just a few sentences about the genre (in case you randomly ended up on this post). The truth is that (at least for me) lofi is such a broad and a rather meaningless term it actually makes it hard to explain it into words. That's why I just called our section of the website / playlist Chill Beats. That's what they are.
Yes, I know the urban dictionary definition and the fact that it is a...
"subliminal sub-genre of conscious hip-hop that is characterized by the high-utilization of elements such as introspection and seeks to engage with elements of human emotion. Elements such as high distortion as well as mellow sounds are more prominent features of any lofi hip-hop soundtrack"
...but it is also so much more. I might dedicate a whole post on the topic, but I think we've got this covered for now.
Since the 24 / 7 lofi radio is still a thing and many YouTube channels are doing a great job improving the listener experience, I thought of sharing my favourite channels and their streams... and also plug ours of course.
Chillhop Music 24 / 7 lofi hip hop radio
The guys are currently running 2 live streams, but what I'll focus on is their new stream, which has tons of new features and our favourite Raccoon walking out and about. I love that the team is making a conscious decision to push people to be more active and move away from the mellow vibes surrounding the genre.
In their lofi radio stream they've added atmospheric background sounds, unreleased tracks from their upcoming projects, random giveaways and so on. I love the aesthetics and the fact that they highlight each track and display its artwork quite prominently.
STEEZYASFUCK lofi hip hop radio - beats to sleep/study to ☕️
Hands down one of the jazziest and hip hop channels out there. The selection feels a bit playful and actually if I was running an actual coffee place, that would be my go-to place when it comes to instrumental hip hop.
ChilledCow lofi hip hop radio - beats to relax/study to
Arguably the biggest lofi radio stream on YouTube with an average of 10k+ listeners at any time. "Led" by the infamous ever-studying lofi chillhop anime girl, the stream has a bit less functionalities than Chillhop Music, but equally beautiful aesthetics and has been one of the most shared channels across the Internet.
The guys have so many listeners, trying to keep an eye on the livechat is pretty much impossible. The selection, however, is spot on.
R y a n C e l s i u s lofi HipHop & lofi trap Radio
When I feel like something a bit more bass-y and trippy and get tired of the rather ambient-driven lofi, then R y a n C e l s i u s' stream has no match. The dude loves the Simpsons and focuses on rather trap-influenced beats. Feels very 420 friendly.
the bootleg boy lofi hip hop radio - sad & sleepy beats
If sadness is indeed your thing, then there's only one place you should be heading to. There's something hopelessly romantic about the bootleg boy and his stream. I don't know much about the dude behind it although we've had the pleasure of chatting a few times on the Internet. Truly lofi aesthetics with lots of rain and all that jazz in the background.
Ambition lofi radio / calm beats to study/relax to
Ambition's stream reminds me a bit of Chillhop Music and ChilledCow's - very laid back, gentle and intimate. I like the 8bit aesthetics of the lofi livestream, but also the mini mixes he uploads quite frequently.
College Music 24/7 lofi hip hop radio - beats to study/chill/relax
Time for another animated study girl. College Music's selection, however, lays on the rather indie side of things if that makes any sense. Many of the lofi beats on the stream have actually vocals and feel like a blend of indie / acoustic and instrumental hip hop. The guys have definitely build their own sonic world in the giant lofi universe and it's nice when you're looking for a rather lyrical take on the genre.
Now I guess its time for some shameless self-promotion. Simone and I have been trying to kick-start our live stream (below), but so far we're in the early stages of the experiment. We've plugged many beats featured on Stereofox and if you dig the vibe, feel free to follow our Chill Beats playlist on Spotify and Apple Music.
update - we stopped our YouTube live, keeping the playlist updated weekly though
I want to mention a few other channels I keep an eye on and deserve the spotlight. Unfortunately, the post started to feel way too long but didn't want to wrap this up before bringing up Homework Radio, In Your Chill, The Jazzhop Cafe, and NEOTIC.
I must admit - I keep in touch / have spoken with most people who run these channels. While I don't know the intentions / drive behind running those streams, I know it takes a lot of effort to be on top of things, so props to the teams behind them. That being said - don't forget to support the artists and if you enjoy a track - go follow that producer and share them with your friends. It would mean the world to them.