How This Musician Gained Fame Through A TV Score

Nujabes was a multi-talented Japanese hip-hop producer with a heavy jazz influence. His underground fame was undeniable, but it wasn’t until we worked on the show Samurai Champloo that he gained international recognition.

Here’s why working on a TV show made Nujabes a hip-hop legend.

1. Samurai Champloo emphasized his music.

Samurai Champloo was unique in that it mixed hip-hop culture with Japanese history, and Nujabes was the perfect candidate for the show’s music composition. The bulk of the show’s soundtrack is hip-hop instrumentals or passive but catchy beats.

The show’s intro was where his music really shined, though, and it is currently one of the most viewed and celebrated anime intros on YouTube.

2. The soundtrack is exclusive.

Exclusivity is often key to this kind of underground success. The album for the show’s soundtrack is not available on iTunes, Spotify, or Pandora, and in fact, it can only be bought on Amazon as a hard copy.

The show’s cult following is determined to find and share this music gem, but on the corporate level, it’s unavailable, making it rare and valuable.

3. The music serves as a soundtrack for life.

People commonly listen to soundtrack music while they work because it’s meant to accentuate what is happening rather than distract from it. Hip-hop instrumentals often serve the same purpose. As far as an overlap between the two, Nujabes’s work reigns supreme. The bulk of the soundtrack has a calming effect with several exciting tracks interspersed.

This balance is intentional for the show but has unintentionally accomplished what so many listeners look for, which is musical motivation.

Nujabes’s legacy lives on through his music. The YouTube channel Nujabes and Friends continues to honor what he did for hip-hop and anime. While his music was celebrated, it was his work with Samurai Champloo that gained him adoration.

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Gabriel Dufurrena is a mathematician, writer, and educator living in Oakland, CA. When he’s not watching YouTube videos or teaching math, he’s listening to beats on his balcony.

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