It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since a car accident took the life of Seba Jun, known to the world as Nujabes.
To give a little background on Nujabes, he was a hip-hop producer and DJ, known for his collaborations with artists such as Shing02, Minmi, Uyama Hiroto, and Nomak. He’s also done collaborations with American hip-hop artists, such as CYNE, Fat Jon, and Five Deez. He is known for his distinct blending of hip-hop and jazz and the cool, meditative atmospheres set by his music.
I’ll try to put it in the best words that I can. His music is for the soul searchers and the philosophers, the lovers and the heartbroken, the enlightened and those seeking enlightenment, the ones seeking shelter from the rain and the ones looking for a new horizon to run to…
…yeah, that’s what his music does to you.
So we’re going to celebrate the anniversary of his passing by showcasing our (read: my) top ten favorite Nujabes-produced tracks.
Regardless if this list does not match yours, take this as an excuse to relive some of the masterpieces brought to us by a genius who left the world too early.
Now, let’s get jamming!
10. “Ain’t No Mystery”
A collab between Nujabes and L Universe. Does his voice sound familiar? It’s because you probably might know him by another stage name: Verbal of hip-hop/pop duo m-flo. This track is an excellent showcase of Verbal in a non-pop music light and prove that he is a legit emcee.
9. “Spiritual State”
The first and title track off the album Spiritual State, which was released after Nujabes’ death. Nujabes had a number of unreleased and incomplete music, which many of his friends and fellow hip-hop producers completed in order to release them to his devoted fans. One of which is Uyama Hiroto, whose touch is featured on this track.
8. “Song of Four Seasons”
This song was featured on the soundtrack of the anime Samurai Champloo, in which the entire world was seduced by the groovy visions of Nujabes. The vocals are performed by Minmi, and do nothing but complement the entrancing jazziness completely.
7. “Blessing It (Remix)”
Featured on the album Metaphorical Music this sick collab between Nujabes, Pase Rock, and Substantial will have your head knocking up and down.
6. “World’s End Rhapsody”
This sick piece of enlightening goodness comes from the album Modal Soul. If the world were really to end tomorrow, may this song play as you float your way to heaven. As with many of Nujabes’ tracks, this is one that nobody would mind play on repeat for hours on end.
5. “Letter From Yokosuka”
“Letter From Yokosuka” is featured on Metaphorical Music. What makes this track so hypnotizing is the saxophone. I would often listen to this track exclusively as a rode the busy Tokyo trains, gazing out the window and losing myself in the vision of the cityscape.
Yet another masterpiece from Modal Soul, “Feather” features the words of Cise Starr and Akin, two emcees from the group CYNE. Like the hook goes, let the sounds turn you light as a feather and float you away from any worries and pain.
This was the first track that I listened to on Spiritual State, and the tone set by this melancholy piece gave me images of standing at the edge of a beach, watching the sunset as the waves hit my feet. However, this song brought tears to my eyes because of the feeling of nostalgia and realization that Nujabes is no longer around to produce any more of this beautiful music. Thank you Uyama Hiroto and Nakamura Haruka for helping make this track happen.
2. “Aruarian Dance”
This track, featured on the soundtrack of anime Samurai Champloo, was the track that was solely responsible for hooking me into the magic of Nujabes. Ever since then, it’s been the song that first comes to mind at the very mention of Nujabes’ name.
Nujabes and Shing02 are the dream team when it comes to Nujabes collabs. While many people may love their hit “Battlecry”, I for one am in love with their “Luv(sic)” series. There are multiple parts to the song, just like the novels in a book series – you need to listen them all. Each entry has different words and a different feel, but overall continue the story of an emcee’s love song. Now, technically there are six separate songs, but I felt that they should be grouped as one.
Does my list match to yours? Leave a comment!
Rest in Peace, Seba Jun.