Nujabes, whose real name was Jun Seba, was a visionary Japanese hip-hop producer and DJ who left an indelible mark on the world of music.
His untimely death in 2010 was a profound loss to the music community and left fans around the world mourning the loss of a true musical genius.
In this article, we delve into the circumstances surrounding Nujabes' passing and the enduring legacy he left behind.
Who Was Nujabes?
Nujabes was a Japanese record producer, audio engineer, DJ, composer, and arranger best known for his atmospheric instrumental mixes integrating elements of trip-hop, breakbeat, downtempo, and ambient music.
Seba was born in the Nishi-Azabu area of Minato, central Tokyo, Japan, on February 7, 1974. Seba formed the indie record label Hydeout Productions and owned a record store in Shibuya as an adult.
During his lifetime, Seba released two studio albums: Metaphorical Music (2003) and Modal Soul (2005), with the album Spiritual State being published posthumously in 2011.
He founded the indie label Hydeout Productions, which produced two collection compilations: Hydeout Productions 1st Collection (2003) and Hydeout Productions 2nd Collection (2007).
In 2004, Seba also contributed to the music for Shinichi Watanabe's anime series Samurai Champloo (Music Record: Departure and Impression).
How Did Nujabes Die?
Seba died in a car accident in 2010 at the age of 36.
Despite being largely unknown during his lifetime, Seba has now garnered posthumous recognition and has been dubbed the “godfather” of lo-fi hip hop.
Seba's production skills and career have been compared favorably to J Dilla, who was born on the same day as him.
Seba was involved in a traffic accident after exiting the Shuto Expressway at 22:14 on February 26, 2010.
After efforts to resuscitate him failed, he was pronounced dead at a hospital in Shibuya Ward.
His burial is located in Tama Cemetery's Japanese section.
The Legacy of Nujabes
Other musicians from all across the world paid respect to Seba after his death. Digi Crates Records, based in New York, released a series of tribute CDs performed by various musicians in a manner comparable to Seba's on Bandcamp.
Hydeout Productions, Seba's label, released a tribute album named Modal Soul Classics II, which featured a number of past partners as well as lyrics and song titles that alluded to Seba's work.
“Through his soulful music, Nujabes has touched so many people around the world, even beyond his dreams,” said frequent collaborator Shing02, adding, “[I] deeply regret the loss of a unique talent and a close friend.”
Shing02 has performed at Seba tribute gigs.
In a 2014 highlight of Modal Soul, Daniel Hodgman, publisher of hip-hop culture website BonusCut, said, “Nujabes may not be physical with us anymore, but through his music, his legacy and lust for life lives on.” Gus Navarro, co-founder, stated, “The music of the late producer Nujabes is something to hold onto and never let go.”
Ta-ku, an Australian producer, produced the tribute album 25 Nights for Nujabes in 2013.
In 2018, Zeus, a Polish rapper, released the tribute song “Kwiaty dla J.”
Nujabes was mentioned in the song “Anime World” by American rapper SahBabii in 2018. He went on to say “RIP Nujabes, nine tails a Jinchuriki”.
In an interview with XXL, SahBabii stated that Nujabes inspired him to start music.
In 2018, American rapper Logic praised Nujabes in the song “Thank You” from his album YSIV, saying, “I had to write this over a Nujabes vibe,” referring to the track's production style, which is evocative of Nujabes' music.
In the single “Perfect” from his album No Pressure in 2020, Logic cited Nujabes as a big inspiration for his production style with MF DOOM, RZA, and Kanye West.
Shing02, MINMI, Substantial, Marcus D, and EyeQ performed at an Otakon memorial performance in Washington, D.C. on July 26, 2019.
Chester Watson's album A Japanese Horror Film with the track “Nujabes” was published on October 21, 2020.