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If it weren’t for Nujabes, a Japanese producer whose experimental grooves made him a notable name in his country, the world probably wouldn’t know about Substantial.
That’s why the Landover/Baltimore hybrid is helping organize next week’s “Peaceland: A World Without Words” event at the National Harbor, which will honor the legacy of the fallen producer, who died last year in a car accident. Nujabes (new-jah-bess) was 36.
“I owe a lot to him,” Substantial tells Arts Desk. “If it wasn’t for this brother, people wouldn’t hear the music they’re used to hearing from me.”
The production on Substantial’s first album, To This Union a Sun Was Born, was largely handled by Nujabes, and Substantial’s first singles were released through the producer’s independent Hyde Out Productions imprint.
The two eventually found it challenging to record together and grew apart professionally. Still, Substantial says he was “devastated” when Bop Alloy partner Marcus D. texted him that Nujabes had died.
“You never forget how you got your start,” Substantial says. “You keep thinking about all those moments.”
On Feb. 17, Substantial will be joined by Pase Rock, Emancipator, Apani B., and several others at the bar Bobby McKey’s for the Peaceland tribute show. The bar is located at 172 Fleet St. in Oxon Hill. Doors open at 8 p.m.; show begins at 9. Tickets are $15. Go here to purchase.