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