Three years ago, after a long night of music sleuthing, I stumbled across who is now my all-time favorite producer, Nujabes. Jun Seba, creator of the underground label, Hydeout Productions, has a hand of God when he touches music. Everything he’s worked on is pure gold, and the acts he supported grace most of the playlists I make. Unfortunately, in February of 2010, he was killed by a drunk driver in Tokyo but his legacy still lives on.
He was a master of blending hip hop, jazz, and electronic music into some of the most lush compositions I’ve ever listened to. Every day I play his music and every single time I find a new part to fall in love with. He even did the soundtrack for Samurai Champloo, an anime I hold dear to my heart with all of the bad ass fighting that goes down. It’s created by the same people who did Cowboy Bebop, so you need to check it out. Killer writing, music, and epic samurai fights – what more could you possibly ask for?
This brings me to my new found love of underground Japanese hip hop. After sifting through SoundCloud pages, a complete beauty of a Kobe based producer came my way: Yakkle. His production style is similar to Nomak (also on Hydeout) and is right up the Nujabes alley in his use of piano and hip hop.
While he doesn’t have an EP release, or at least one I’m aware of, his stand alone tracks and remixes are impeccably produced. He seems partial to Shing02 in his remixes, and although I’m not sure if they’ve collaborated before, the work he puts into these songs are pretty bomb.
還元 (Yakkle remix)
This was the first track I listened to by Yakkle and was a near instant hit. It’s got a laid back, jazzy feel to it, with the remixed vocals creating a perfect setting to stare out at a skyline from a high rise. It’s a pretty great winter beat – sorry for being out of season with this one.
This is a perfect homage to a Nujabes track. Like one comment mentions, it is in fact “wicked smooth” and a track I’d play in the bedroom. How could you not? Such a sexy beat with the chilled out piano and an underwhelming drum beat going. I find that with some of these hip hop/jazz tracks that the drums can overtake the entire track. Yakkle bypasses this with a lo-fi scratchy sound from a would-be record player and keeps it relaxed.
Keep him on your list of Japanese hip hop producers to watch out for – he’s still got a lot of room to grow but I think the underground community will keep a keen eye on him.