Beauty Concocted Into a Whole – Modal Soul by Nujabes


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An artist by the name of Nujabes has been percolating throughout the internet for the past few years. From the time I was an emerging adolescent to where music is taking place now, his name is almost unconsciously omnipresent.

Around 2012, when I became an avid listener of his sound, his singles and albums were just starting to garner attention. Ranging in between 100,000 views and 500,000 views on average, the world began to notice the arcane quality of pure and true “Jazz Hop.”

Jazz Hop is now one of the chosen staples of the Hip-Hop movement. With all the listeners that put on playlists behind their studying or gameplay sessions, the subgenre itself came a long way from being an obscure niche to a universal spectrum of youthful sound.

This was started with Nujabes’ Modal Soul album, which came out in 2005. The album holds fourteen tracks of diverse instrumental noise and a few poetic notches. The first single is the iconic Feather single which features rapper Cise Starr.

Image from Cise Starr’s Facebook page

The rest of the album contains instrumentals and songs that range with diverse Jazz sounds, implementing the conventional samples through the catalog of Ahmad Jamal, Yusef Lateef, and Chet Baker. Some of the tracks contain a handful of samples muddled into one cohesive sound session. Other tracks work around one sample, such as Light on the Land, which samples Larry Ridley.

After the unfortunate passing of Nujabes in 2010, his music began to surge. As of today, this album managed to surpass fifteen million views on YouTube. The songs here bounce from the melody to melody, extracting noises from various sources. As a result, each track holds a different feeling and a unique experience.

Once stepping out of Feather’s territory, the listener is bombarded with blissful sounds ranging from the spectrum of nocturnal lullabies to bombastic Jazz noise.

The song Flowers holds a repetition that merges Dinah Washington’s voice with John Hicks’ warped sound. The result is a blissful procession holding no more enticement, but no less entrancement.

My favorite on the album is Sea of Clouds. The track samples Chet Baker, Bill Evans, and the J.O.B. Orquestra all into an enmesh of serenity. One of the more appropriate tracks to listen to in a sedated Summer or Spring evening.

Video uploaded by Philippe Blagoev (YouTube)

One of the more popular tracks involves the poetic onslaught entitled Luv Sic Part 3, featuring Japanese-American lyricist Shingo Annen and Thank You, featuring Hip-Hop emcee Apani B.

All these tracks yield their own beauty without the conception of the album. Although, the album itself yields a beauty due to the non-linear structure of these songs. Each song is a different experience, holding different emotions for the listener to confront. Many of the songs here feel sedating, almost nocturnal. Other times, the songs could be somber but shed a little light of hope on at the end of its tunnel.

That is how I could describe the music of Nujabes overall. Each of his tracks emotes no less emotion than the other. From all the distresses and tribulations the modern world brings upon us, there are projects like these that allow the body to escape and the mind to wander. It seems to be a rare occasion now, making this one a relic to cherish for the coming ages.

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