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A lo-fi instrumental hip hop album inspired by the great outdoors: “Up North”

Good hip hop can come from some of the most unexpected places. In this case, it’s from the northern lakes and forests of Michigan. The album is called “Up North” and its composer Matt Sommer borrowed from childhood memories to create a new brand of chilled-out instrumental hip hop. It’s a hip hop inspired by the quiet confidence of the great outdoors found in northern parts of the United States. But it has a touch of Detroit swagger as well.

Up North is an instrumental journey through the perfect summer day of my childhood,” admits Sommer. “Where I grew up in mid-Michigan, summers were sacred and nearly everyone I knew went ‘up north’ to go camping and to the beach and to just plain get away from it all, and enjoy some peaceful time with family. The album I crafted seeks to capture this in the vibe and flow of the music.”

And indeed Sommer does capture a vibe in Up North as well as a narrative. The story begins with a road trip away from Michigan’s big cities into its great outdoors. The third track, “Lake Huron” uses up-beat rhythms to capture the mood of Sommer arriving at their favorite campsite and the elated feeling after jumping into Lake Huron.

The album chills out a bit towards the end with tracks like “Campfire,” “Milky Way” and “Northern Lights.” These tracks bring you back to those quiet moments in the wilderness where you can hear a campfire crackling, and the crickets gently humming away in the darkness. “I would lean back in my chair by the campfire and stare at the stars,” recalls Sommer when talking about the track “Campfire.”

Up North finishes with “Northern Lights.” The track slows things down significantly for what is the most laid-back song on the album. It’s designed to let the mind wander and stress to float away like the Northern Lights dancing across a dark Michigan sky. It’s a song to drift off to sleep to ending the perfect summer day.

Listen to a sample of some of our favorite singles from the album below and visit Apple Music to buy your copy

Sommer – Lake Huron


Sommer – Hot Sun Cold Drink


Sommer – Northern Lights