Look Back: Nujabes 1974-2010

Written by Michael Langiewicz

Today, we celebrate Nujabes’ life and legacy. His unique approach to music continues to captivate the minds of listeners today, intimately bridging jazz, hip-hop and global music cultures. What is most prolific about Nujabes’ music rests in Seba’s selection and use of samples. Throughout his discography, Seba seamlessly brought together samples from a variety of genres, delicately shaping them to reflect his inner soul.

On February 26th, 2010 the world lost one of the of the greatest hip-hop producers to ever grace us with his music. Jun Seba, otherwise known as Nujabes — was involved in a car accident upon exiting the Shuto Expressway and was pronounced dead at the hospital. News of his death was hidden from the public for a month, until friend, colleague and fellow hip-hop artist Shing02 released a statement alongside Hydeout Productions to confirm his passing:

“We deeply regret the loss of a unique talent and a close friend. Through his soulful music, Nujabes has touched so many people around the world, even beyond his dreams. It continued to amaze me how young listeners of all backgrounds learned of his enigmatic name, and expressed support for his music.”

In his time, Nujabes released five studio albums including critically acclaimed solo-work, ‘Metaphorical Music’ (2003) and ‘Modal Soul’ (2005). His work on Anime series Samurai Champloo saw the release of two more albums: ‘Departure’ (2004) and ‘Impression’ (2004). In 2011, ‘Spiritual State’ was released posthumously on his independent label, Hydeout Productions. Nujabes is also credited for production of several albums, including his work with American, underground hip-hop artists Substantial and Pase Rock on ‘To This Union A Sun Was Born’ (2001) and ‘Bullshit as Usual’ (2003). Any attempt at highlighting Nujabes’ life’s work would take nothing short of a novel, as his reach extends across the world in many forms.

Seba was influential not only through his music, but through his personal involvement within the Japanese music community. As the founder of Hydeout Productions, Nujabes brought together artists such as Shing02, Uyama Hiroto and Emancipator, building a family based on a common love for music. Hydeout Productions continue to operate today, building upon Seba’s colourfully curated discography. In addition to Hydeout Productions, Seba was the proud owner of two prominent record stores in Shibuya, Japan— T Records and Guinness Records.

For more information on his legacy, we leave you with a link to a comprehensive thread dedicated to the late Seba. Though he has left this world too soon, Nujabes’ trademark muted-beats will resonate throughout time, eternally extending his stay in our hearts.


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