I thank you all for showing love to me
You make this journey something that I hold close to me
I see hip hop as a global community
It makes sense that music brings more meaning to life
— “Thank You” by Nujabes, featuring Apani B Fly
By Tiffany Ran
Northwest Asian Weekly
It has been confirmed recently that hip hop producer extraordinaire Jun Seba passed away on Feb. 26 after a fatal car accident in Tokyo’s Minato Ward. Efforts to resuscitate Seba at a hospital in Shibuya were unsuccessful. Seba died at the age of 36. The news was publicly confirmed by Hydeout Productions and by Seba’s friend and close collaborator, Shing02, on March 18.
“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,” said Shing02 on his website, e22.com.
Seba was the founder of independent label, Hydeout Productions. He went by his stage name, Nujabes, which is Seba Jun spelled backwards. He won great acclaim in Japan as a hip hop producer and owner of two Tokyo record stores, Guinness Records and T Records. In America, Seba was best known for contributing his music to Cartoon Network’s “Samurai Champloo.” His music incorporated jazzy and melodic instrumentation with hip hop beats, a style that catered to Japanese tastes but won great adoration from music fans around the world. Seba often sought out American underground hip hop artists for collaborations, thus bringing international recognition to local artists like Substantial, Apani B Fly, hip hop group Five Dees, and CL Smooth. He remains an inspiration to musicians worldwide.
Substantial (real name Stan B. Robinson) began recording with Seba and Hydeout Productions while he was juggling school, a budding music career, and the deaths of more than 10 of his family members.
“There are some artists who influence and inspire me but if there is one who has truly changed my life, it is without a doubt Nujabes. … He took a chance on me when I was still trying to find my voice as an artist and as a man. But he believed in my words and because of that, we have made a lot of great music together that will stand the test of time,” said Robinson on his record label QN5 music’s website.
Seba was buried in a private ceremony held by his family. Throughout his career, he was a private man who avoided the limelight and was rarely seen giving interviews, choosing instead to communicate mostly through his music. Many of his close colleagues were unaware of his passing in late February. Though there were internet rumors circulating around Japan, the confirmation of Seba’s death almost a month later shocked colleagues and fans around the world. Seba left behind some unreleased tracks that Hydeout Production intends on releasing in the near future to preserve his great legacy.
Tiffany Ran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.