The internet is a lawless battleground of misinformation and dissent. But nestled within the corners of the web resides a refuge of peace—the music genre of lofi hip hop. Defined by its infinite loop of mellow beats and humdrum anime visuals, the genre becomes a shapeshifter of sorts: a productivity-boosting soundtrack for cram sessions, a sleep aid for insomniacs, and millennial elevator music for those wanting to soften their thoughts. Lofi hip hop (commonly referred to as “lofi”) defies every chart-topping convention: most songs are devoid of lyrics and a vinyl static crackles within the soundscape. But within an era of digital platforms capitalizing on our short attention spans, the genre has thrived by reminding us to slow down. Lofi hip hop—the internet’s best kept secret—wasn’t supposed to blow up.
Our portal into understanding this pervasive genre resides in Kudasai (birth name: Christian Songco), a lofi artist unaccustomed to his escalating fame and sorely terrified of crowds. The 21-year old producer collects over a million monthly listeners on Spotify, which translates to a 6-figure annual income—an impressive feat achieved under the roof of his parents’ home. When he’s not spoiling his parents with a brand new car or $1,200 Roomba, he’s attending university and set to graduate soon. If he wanted to, he could have quit school to pursue music full-time.
But Kudasai is grounded to a pedestrian goal that inspires a collective moan amongst artists: finish school and get a stable job. “I want a suburban life,” he sighs, “I want kids, a family, a home.”
Both a love letter and an examination, this film explores the phenomenon of lofi hip hop. We meet an assortment of characters that delineate the origins of the genre and reflect on its future: Kero One, a producer who encountered one of the late legendary pioneers of the genre; Eevee, a Netherlands-based producer dubbed by fans as the “queen of lofi”; and starry-eyed fans who’ve chiseled these artists into their version of Mount Rushmore. In the end, we return home to Kudasai, our atom into understanding the solar system of one of the first genres born on the internet—lofi hip hop.