For a brief period of time last month, YouTube caused everyone to experience the decidedly un-chill worry that the foundational “lofi hip hop radio – beats to relax/study to” was going to disappear. Though the broadcast wasn’t dropped for long, its temporary removal forced everyone to stop taking the endlessly concentrating Study Girl, stuck inside with her cat to eternally concentrate on the Sisyphean task of finishing her homework, for granted. She could go away at any time. She could suddenly close her notebook, remove her headphones, and leave us all alone.
Obviously we need back-up in case this ever happens. Luckily, famous YouTuber Will Smith (who, we should note, occasionally moonlights as an actor and musician) has published his own version just in case it’s ever required.
“chill beats to quarantine to” replaces Study Girl with Study Smith and a cat whose back is turned away with a cat facing forward. Smith wears a Bel-Air hoodie and his headphones say “Fresh,” and he, too, is an extremely devoted student. The beats are chill, made even chiller by the sound of the cat purring and passing cars, but the key difference in Study Smith’s approach is that the new video ends, implying that he manages to somehow finish his work. Unlike the original, time actually passes. It rains. The sun rises and sets. The world seems to exist beyond his window.
These are nice touches, but they also force us to worry about how numb cartoon Will Smith’s ass is—and how ravaged his writing hand is—after several consecutive days of studying. By the time the video ends an hour and a half later, the viewer may have listened to a lot of relaxing beats, but we are not calm because both Study Smith and his cat must be starving and dehydrated, physically and mentally deteriorating in a quest to finish what must be a monumental workload.
Still, it’s always good to have options and now viewers can decide between two varieties of lo-fi hip hop beat videos: The one in which a girl labors in a cozy limbo or the one in which a guy slowly drives himself to ruin over days of real-time study.
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