The legacy of japanese producer Nujabes


Daniel Torres , Senior

When many people think of Lofi, they think of the video of a girl doing her homework on Youtube, but the genre goes much deeper. The creation and structure of Lofi began with Seba Jun, more famously known as Nujabes.

Seba had a passion for East Coast Hip-Hop music, and was always experimenting with beats, giving it his own twist. His journey begins with the creation of his label in 2003, HydeOut Productions with an East Coast rapper, Funky DL, someone with whom he would personally fly out to Japan to make music. Working with Funky helped him develop his own sound that really stood out, as he would combine hip hop and jazz samples, creating his signature style on his debut LP, Metaphorical Music in 2003.

The new sound and production that Nujabes created grabbed the attention of many and most importantly, Shinichiro Watanabe. Watanabe was a fan of his music and would make Nujabes the director of the soundtrack for his 2005 anime, Samurai Champloo. The combination of hip hop and anime made the album a success and helped boost Nujabes’ career, which came right in time for his critically acclaimed album, Modal Soul.

The catchy and head-bobbing production of Nujabes and the lyrical wordplay by rappers such as Cisce Star and Substantial would make for a more polished project using this new style of music. 

After releasing Modal Soul, Nujabes stayed away from the limelight where he would just focus on his label and fellow MCs. Shing02, a rapper he would frequently collaborate with, elaborated on Seba’s creative process and vision: “He was definitely trying to do more house stuff and more fast-paced and… was experimenting.”

Little news was known about Nujabes and what was going on with his career, but on February 26, 2010, he tragically died in a car accident. His label soon released his album Spiritual State in 2011 posthumously. Luis Dominguez, a Senior and Music Producer from Nogales, gave his thoughts on Nujabes’ music stating, “Very reminiscent of the late J. Dilla, [he] was really pushing the boundaries of instrumental hip hop; he was an example of art speaking for itself.” 

The beautiful jazz samples mixed with hip hop were truly an art; and he became the pioneer of a new type of music known as Lofi, which is currently overtaking mainstream music.