Music: Nujabes

The beat plus the melody's the recipe / all good souls lost, may they rest in peace

Nujabes (real name: Jun Seba, or 瀬葉淳) (1974 - 2010) was a Japanese Hip Hop producer/DJ and still stands to this day as one of the most highly respected, renowned, and celebrated hip hop producers of his time, as well as one of the forerunners of the instrumental hip hop genre. He is famous for his mellow and atmospheric approach to his music, highly influenced by jazz which more often than not appeared via sampling. Nujabes has tackled everything from Chicago jazz to the aesthetic sounds of nature and made it sound blissful. If there's any one artist who has an entire discography of Most Wonderful Sounds and Sweet Dreams Fuel, it's Nujabes. Additionally, his unique view of the extents that hip-hop can go have forever changed the perspective of the genre and turned even the most bitter haters of the genre into enthusiasts.

One of his main claims to fame is his extensive work on the soundtrack music of Samurai Champloo, creating its opening theme "Battlecry" and its ending theme "Shiki no Uta", as well as many more songs on the two official soundtracks of the show (Departure and Impression).

Being a very private person, not much is known about his personal life.

Sadly, his career was abruptly cut short in February 26, 2010 when he was involved in a late-night traffic accident exiting the Shuto Expressway. About three weeks later on March 17, he was pronounced dead at a Shibuya Ward hospital after several failed revival attempts. To make matters worse, he was working on his fifth studio work, Spiritual State, at the time of his passing. Understandably, those close to him didn't want to let the album fail to see the light of day, so the album was eventually finished and released posthumously at the end of 2011. At the time of Nujabes' passing, the "Luv(sic)" hexalogy with Shing02 was half-finished, and it was eventually completed.

His personal website can be found here.

If you're new to Nujabes, don't fret: two Nujabes fans on Youtube have made wonderful fanmade playlists that are great for starters to his discography: Lovely Vibes and Soul Searching.

The artist Ta-ku also made a tribute album to Nujabes called 25 Nights for Nujabes that can be found in its entirety here.

Rest in beats.

Discography:

  • Sweet Sticky Thing (mixtape) (1998)
  • Ain't No Mystery (single) (1999)
  • Hydeout Productions: 1st Collection (April 2003)
  • Metaphorical Music (August 2003)
    • Lady Brown (single from Metaphorical Music) (September 2003)
  • Samurai Champloo: Departure (June 2004)
  • Samurai Champloo: Impression (September 2004)
  • Modal Soul (November 2005)
  • Hydeout Productions: 2nd Collection (November 2007)
  • Modal Soul Classics (June 2008)
  • Mellow Beats, Friends, & Lovers (June 2009)
  • Modal Soul Classics II (tribute album) (November 2010)
  • Spiritual State (December 2011; posthumous)

Nujabes provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Bittersweet Ending: Spiritual State concludes with "Island", one of Nujabes' most emotional songs, but the album as a whole qualifies considering it's the last full work of Nujabes' discography.
    • His swan song, "Luv(sic) Grand Finale", is this as well.
  • Dead Artists Are Better: Averted; he was already acclaimed as an artist long before the accident, and his death didn't really gain him more publicity.
  • Epic Rocking: "Peaceland", "Yes", "Horizon", "Kujaku", "Spiritual State", "World Without Words", "Gone Are the Days", and "World's End Rhapsody" are all over or close to six minutes long. "Peaceland" is the longest, at 8:20.
  • Fading into the Next Song: There are several mixes of the entire "Luv(sic)" series on Youtube that do this to transition between songs. Some transitions are more gradual than others, and some transitions are more fluid than others.
  • Gratuitous Panning: "Think Different" has Substantial performing a "The Reason You Suck" Rap, but also has another Substantial panned deep into the right responding to the different insults.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The "Luv(sic)" series, which was merely called "Luv(sic), Part 1", "Luv(sic), Part 2", and so on up until the concluding part six.
    • A case of idiosyncratic album naming; the first and second Hydeout Productions collections.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In the final repetition of the chorus in "Think Different", Substantial repeats the question "Is the glass half full or half empty?", which is part of the chorus. Another Substantial panned to the right says, "STOP ASKING ME THAT."
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Nujabes collaborated with numerous performers on his albums: Substantial, Pase Rock, Shing02, Cise Starr, Fat Jon and many, many others.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly / Genre-Busting: While his music is usually categorized as hip hop/instrumental hip hop, his style is actually pretty unique, combining the genre with others like jazz, ambient, and downtempo.
  • Posthumous Collaboration: The second half of the "Luv(sic)" series (parts 4-6) were all completed and released by Shing02 (with the blessings of Nujabes' label, Hydeout Productions) from unfinished beats found on Nujabes' computer and phone after his death.
  • Rearrange the Song:
    • "Shiki no Uta" borrows its beat from "Beat Laments the World", but it gets sort of diminished behind MINMI's vocals.
    • The instrumental to the "Latitude" remix on Metaphorical Music was expanded and revised for "Mystline".
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Seba Jun to Nujabes.
  • Shout-Out: "Feather" mentions Of Mice and Men, Flowers for Algernon, Chinua Achebe's Arrow of God, and Rambo.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Rather, a "The Reason You Suck" Rap that gets delivered by Substantial in "Think Different".

And I drove the Chevy to the Levy
But the Levy was dry, singing "This will be the day that I die"

Alternative Title(s):

Seba Jun, Jun Seba