Friday, December 6, 2013

Nujabes


When it comes to developing a taste in music, nothing beats a fantastic first impression. This happened to me the first time I listened to Jun Seba, a Japanese DJ and hip hop producer more commonly known under his recording name- Nujabes.

I remember the moment vividly. Sitting on a balcony under a scattering of stars, the first notes of Nujabes' 'Lady Brown,' drifted from a friend's phone, and that was it. I was transfixed. And my tastes would be changed forever. Opened up. I had never considered rap to be amongst my favourite genres. I'd always lumped it into the 'could live without' category of music. But this song, mixed as it was with a sampling of Spanish guitar, made me feel as if my chest was about to burst open with an emotion I couldn't explain. I'd never loved a song as instantly, or as passionately.

And this song was what introduced me to the brilliant musician that was Nujabes. Famous for his ability to blend hip hop beats with jazz influences, creating a uniquely atmospheric sound, Nujabes wove a career that touched the lives of many before he died of a tragic car accident in 2010, at 35 years old. As in the cases of so many great musicians that were taken before they could create more spectacular tunes, Nujabes was no different. But the tunes he did create before his death are nothing short of beautiful. Not only working in collaboration with American hip hop artists such as CYNE and Cise Star to make raps, Nujabes used samples of foreign music to make instrumentals with world music influences, tunes so atmospheric that you could almost imagine you were in a foreign country. That's what good music is meant to do- affect mood and emotion. And needless to say you don't have to be a fan of rap or hip hop to enjoy Nujabes, just like I wasn't upon first hearing him. Nujabes is hip hop with a twist...the cool jazz and sampling is what makes him stand out from the sea of the top 40.

Listen to the tune 'Modal Soul' from the album with the same title, and be transported to a South American beach at night, the air hot and heady with salt. For the same effect, his 'Spiritual State,' with a beauty reminiscent of a blooming flower. Listen to his 'Luv Sic's' part 1, 2 and 3, a collaboration with Japanese rapper Shing02, to understand a true and insightful perspective on affection. And always, 'Lady Brown,' because no one ever wants to forget how a lover's beauty makes them feel.

RIP Nujabes.