In an emotion-packed, rhyme-flying concert, Japanese rapper Shing02 with help from the The Chee-Hoos paid tribute to fellow artist and principle collaborator, Nujabes (Jun Seba), who tragically passed away in 2010.

It’s corny, but as the lights dimmed and the beats came to life on Social Hall’s intimate stage, you could feel Nujabes coming to life. Because there he was in the turntables of Spin Master A-1, his ambient presence felt through the saxophonists (Nicholas Kaleikini of The Chee-Hoos & David Boyce of The Supplicants), all culminating into the show-stopping presence of Shing02. 

Coming back to the Bay Area, Shing02 brought his A-game. You see, Shing02 was a UC Berkeley alumni himself and cites his exposure to the magic of the Bay Area hip-hop scene as a major source of inspiration. During the performance, Shing02 remembered these shows where “everyone’s hands were raised…and everyone knew the lyrics…It was a beautiful thing that I wanted to be a part of.”

Shing02’s passion was unparalleled, and he brewed the same environment he fell in love with at the Social Hall. A sea of hands pumped to the eloquent beats and you looked out of place if you didn’t know any of the lyrics to Nujabes’ and Shing02’s “Luv Sic” hexology.

The night ended with Shing02’s delivery of  “Battlecry”, the opening song of the critically acclaimed anime Samurai Champloo, which blends the samurai culture of feudal Japan and modern hip-hop to produce an imaginative anachronism of Japan’s Edo period.

Shing02 and The Chee-Hoos paid a stunning tribute to Nujabes. Shing02 and Nujabes’ contributions will continue to permeate beyond music, and their creative influences will remain an integral part of reinventing hip-hop. It’s a shame we won’t be able to look forward to any Nujabes tracks, but we’ll still always have gifts like Modal Soul.

At the end of the show, my ears piqued when I heard someone say — “Nujabes left because God needed a DJ” — and I can’t help but agree with them.

Rest in peace, Nujabes.

Article and Photos by Edfil Dulay

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