Underground hip-hop star Nujabes dies at 36

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Underground hip-hop star Nujabes dies at 36

There is a saying that geniuses don’t live a full life. Mozart died at 35; Jimi Hendrix was only 27; and now the death of Japanese underground hip-hop artist Nujabes at 36 helps prove the adage true.

Hydeout Productions, the late producer’s management company, reported on its Web site last Thursday that Nujabes was involved in a car accident as he exited the Shuto Expressway late on Feb. 26. The news reached fans only through this post, which was made public days after Nujabes’ private burial.

Nujabes’ musical career started in 1995 with the single “Ain’t No Mystery,” and he became known to the rest of the world with his first album, “Metaphorical Music,” in 2003. His contributions to the soundtrack of the animated Japanese TV series “Samurai Champloo” gained him fans in Korea, which led to multiple concerts in 2006 and 2008. He last played Korea at Club Mass in December 2008.

Despite his underground status, Nujabes’ music, with an undertone of nostalgia accompanied by soft hip-hop beats, had a wide audience.

He drew upon his love of music to establish his own record label, Hydeout, and he owned some of the largest record stores in Tokyo.

Nujabes left his fans one last gift: Hydeout said it would posthumously release his latest tracks in the very near future.

By Hannah Kim Contributing Writer [estyle@joongang.co.kr]
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