My cousin who now lives in Japan put me on to Seba Jun nee Nujabes (get it, Jun Seba – Nujabes) when we were in college. When the idea of living in Japan was just a dream, said cousin was extremely into Japanese culture, especially their interpretation of hip-hop. Nujabes was always one of the leading Japanese hip-hop producers (with Hydeout Productions) because he incorporated a mellow jazzy sound with traditional 90s-style boom bap. This might sound weird but his music was almost like elevator music meets hip-hop (but in a good way). Years later, I met Substantial, the only other American I had met (at the time) who was familiar with Nujabes because of a record deal he had in Japan with Hydeout.
I regret to report that Nujabes passed away last month, but news of his death has only recently reached The States.
He died on Feb 26 in a fatal car crash when Japan experienced a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. Rest in peace.