When a traffic accident on Feb. 26, 2010, claimed the life of independent hip-hop auteur Jun Seba, who recorded and DJed under the name Nujabes, even some of his closest collaborators didn’t find out until a few weeks later. The Japanese rapper Shingo Annen, better known by his professional name Shing02, was among the first to break the news, in a blog post published March 17. Paying tribute to Seba, he said that he’d unwittingly been leaving the producer voice mail messages over the previous days, trying to arrange a studio date.

Throughout his career, Seba had been a reluctant public figure, forever working to ensure that the focus remained squarely on his music. In a genre famous for its braggadocio, he was unusually private; he avoided interviews and promotional activities, and photos were so scarce that many of his fans weren’t even sure what he looked like.

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