It’s been exactly one year since Nujabes passed away.
In Nujabes’ Ristorante Mixtape (later remixed into Hydeout Sound Lab in collaboration with DJ Ryow), you can hear the opening line as spoken by Miles Davis:
I’ve been to a lot of interesting places. But I don’t think I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting Poona Flat. My name is… if you don’t mind, we’d like to play something for you.
Nujabes says his name instead of “Billy Cross”, the name of Miles Davis’ character in the movie Dingo; one of the rare and probably only times that anyone outside of close friends and family that anyone has ever heard Nujabes’ actual voice.
At the time I didn’t pay much mind to this, but since his passing, I miss him more than ever. Now every time I hear this line, I think of the homage that he paid to Miles Davis as one of his influences, and how millions of people worldwide of every national origin are still touched by Nujabes’ simple yet deep music.
Not many people think of his music as hip hop, often labeling it something like ‘new age’ or ‘experimental’; and in many ways, they’re right. But I think that there’s more to it than that. In the book “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation” by Jeff Chang, he describes hip hop as “the everlasting music”, and I think that Nujabes’ music is the embodiment of that description.
The music that Nujabes created is the most soulful music that I’ve heard in my entire life… and it will probably stay that way until I die. Here’s to you, Nujabes, from 2010 ‘til infinity.