It would be easy to throw Connecticut producer Red The Chef’s latest EP into the catch-all “lo-fi hip hop beats to chill/study to” bin, because it certainly fits the aesthetic. But that listening environment, of filling the background with something to keep your mind on anything but the music itself, tends to mute subtleties and flatten differentiation. Yes, the beats on this EP, titled ‘Is This It?’, have the same warm, vintage processing that has come to define the genre, and yes the melodic samples are fuzzy and pitched around in the same way, but there are also elements that are squarely Red’s. Most notably, his tendency to drench every element in dreamy reverb creates a unique space for the tracks to sit in, as well as the presence of detuned acoustic instruments that float in and out of each track. The effect is something like listening to music blasted distantly in the park on a warm summer day, instilling a feeling of limitless boundaries, inspiring those nights of aimless exploration. It’s liberating to move about without knowing where you’re going, and this EP might just be the perfect soundtrack to make it happen.
Stream the title track ‘Is This It?’ above, and hop over to Spotify to hear the full EP.