Modal Soul

by Nujabes

Released November 11, 2005 via Hydeout Productions

Reviewed November 12, 2020

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Feather (63%), Luv(sic) pt3 (46%), World’s end Rhapsody (28%)

Hip-Hop music and Japanese people are as musically potent a combination as they can be sparse. So much so that Nujabes remains a crown jewel to the world between these two, ten years after death and fifteen years after Modal Soul. Culturally, one’s way of life will bring hip-hop to a world of places, while hip-hop always brings the world back to the heart of Black people. On Modal Soul, cross-continental consciousness is on a radiant display, represented beautifully in the committee of American rappers that provide this album with a voice. Nujabes identified the common thread that had long tied Japanese music to the birth of hip-hop: jazz. In perfecting the spirit of jazz-rap fusion between Eastern and Western cultures, Nujabes is responsible for one of the greatest melting pot recipes hip-hop has ever seen. – DeVán (10/10)


There are a few artists in every generation who plant seeds that will grow into bigger movements in the future. Nujabes is a prime example, with Modal Soul being ground zero for the lo-fi scene that has bloomed in recent years. The album finds itself at a gorgeous intersection of jazz, traditional Japanese music, and instrumental hip-hop where cultures are blended into a kaleidoscope of emotion that represents the unity hip-hop has come to stand for. Using a wholly unique atmosphere, Nujabes creates a pillowy world of airy percussion, gentle piano, and soft vocals to craft a cerebral album that buries itself deep into your subconscious. Almost two decades later, it remains a milestone of the genre and an inspiration to thousands of artists. – Jared (9/10)


When hip-hop fans think about the ultimate hip-hop album, they typically think about strong lyricism from the likes of Jay-Z’s The Blueprint or Enter The Wu-Tang’s vivid cinematics. Maybe they think of genre-bending performances like Outkast’s Aquemini. Whatever the case may be, Modal Soul has earned at least a mention in that conversation. At its very core, the most cherished and popular Nujabes album exemplifies a key component of hip-hop: unification. Nujabes does an irreproachable job at combining jazz percussion, the traditional open-aired soundscapes of Japanese music, and the soul and rhythm of contemporary hip-hop to produce one of the most enjoyable collections of instrumentals ever crafted. The music feels intimate and sincere, and while other producers at the time had achieved similar ends, the atmosphere of Nujabes’ catalog is entirely original and has even inspired its own Lo-Fi subgenre. Combine his graceful beats with verses from some extremely skilled little-known lyricists and Modal Soul will always feel like a hidden gem no matter how many other people are aware of its existence. – Pax (8.8/10)


DeVán: 10/10 | Cam: 9.5/10 | Enth: 9/10 | Jared: 9/10 | Pax: 8.8/10

Dominick: 8.5/10 | Hadley: 8.5/10 | Daniel: 8/10