How to Create Lofi Music, Lofi Jazz, Hip Hop (No Loops or Samples!)

Posted by Josh Hamit on

Today I’ll walk you through the process of making a jazzy lo-fi beat with all the nostalgia and warmth of lofi hip-hop but with extra jazzy leads, chord progressions and textures.

Don’t forget to check out the video version of this blog post, you’ll find it at the bottom of the page!


Music Theory for Lofi Jazz

Let’s start by talking about the basic building blocks of this track.

It’s in F minor, 3/4 time and at 94 BPM. This is quite slow for 3/4, usually I’d go for a minimum of 100BPM, but I want this track to be nice and laid back.

3/4 also has a jazzier feel than the typical 4/4, it has less of a steady hip hop groove and sounds more romantic.   

The chords are played with open voicings, like so:


F minor 9

F minor 9 chord on a piano keyboard

E♭ major - adding a C to transition into C minor 7

E flat major/C minor 7 chord on piano keyboard

D♭ major 7

D flat maj 7 chord on piano keyboard

And back to E♭ major / C minor 7 again.


A simple chord progression like this gives us more opportunity to improvise over the top, add jazzy notes and play around with the chord transitions.


For the melody, we can improvise with the F natural minor scale: F, G, A♭, B♭, C, D♭, E♭, F.

F minor scale on piano keyboard

Because it’s jazz, we can slip in extra notes outside the scale as well. If you’re playing on a keyboard, try sliding off one of the black keys onto the white key above it (e.g. G♭ to G) for an extra jazzy feel.


Instruments for Lofi Jazz

I started out with some basic ambience, just adding some chatter in the background. 


For the piano chords, I used the Felt Grand Piano from Ólafur Arnalds’ composer toolkit and trimmed off some of the top end with an EQ to create a really soft sound.

Ólafur Arnalds’ composer toolkit interface

Image credit: Spitfire Audio


When the drums kick in, I’ve introduced a second piano (the Noire felt piano from Native Instruments), cutting out the low end and adding a spacey reverb to make an airy sound.

Noire felt piano plugin

Image credit: Native Instruments

I've also used the Noire felt piano for the main piano part.



As well as my usual guitar chain, I added a spacey reverb to make a lush and dreamy sound. The reverb is on a send so that the dry sound of the main guitar is still present.


Vocal Pads & Ambient Texture

I used a couple of vocal pads from Spitfire Audio plugins: Oliver Patrice Weder’s “The Pool Project” and Alev Lenz’s “3”.

Alev Lenz - 3 Spitfire Audio plugin

I also used the “Abandoned Voices” sound from texture grid in the London Contemporary Orchestra Spitfire Audio plugin.

All these vocal samples are grouped together so I can add effects onto them - a little bit of sidechaining to the kick and some automated filtering panning throughout the track.


“Trumpet” 😉

I thought it would be great to get a trumpet in, but don’t play the trumpet... so instead I used my ocarina in combination with some quietly mixed-in trumpet samples from Splice.



There is a combination of double basses in here - the Trilian acoustic double bass from Spectrasonics, along with a commissioned recording from a double bassist for a more realistic sound.


Trilian double bass plugin

Image credit: Spectrasonics



Along with the typical crunchy lofi kick and snare, I also included some brushed hi-hats, and a few different snares, rimshots, cymbals and rides from the XLN Audio Addictive Drums modern soul and R&B kit with added filter delays.


Addictive Drums plugin from XLN Audio

Image credit: XLN Audio

Lofi hip hop wouldn’t be where it is today without jazz. It's been such a huge influence on the sound and the genre as a whole!

Check out the YouTube video below to hear the final result.

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