A curious thing happened around 2004: I started seeing nerdy white and Asian guys get increasingly in to hip-hop.
I’m not referring to hip-hop from Actual Black People (which tend to be rather threatening to nerdy white boys), mind you, nor am I referring to the conscious hip-hop that white hipsters tended to glom on, because it’s “authentic”, and somewhat edgy, but also not threatening. Neither was this part of the (shudder) nerdcore group. Instead, they were listening to this guy named Nujabes.
This guy was an in to hip-hop for nerdy guys because he was in a Japanese cartoon called Samurai Champloo, which was a neat cartoon that anachronistically tied hip-hop to classic samurai TV. For what it’s worth, the music is pretty good–kind of a relaxing jazz/hip-hop mix that fits really well with smoking weed and moody lonely days, and most nerdy guys tend to have a good amount of at least one of those in their daily lives–and it did attract the attention of some hip-hop heads, who would listen to it as an excuse to bemoan the state of hip-hop with the kids and the Jell-O.
Well, no judgment here. Anyway, here’s a few more guys who have a similar atmosphere jazzy/hip-hop blend, often mostly instrumentals, and tend to have album covers with bright neon landscapes.
First up is Blazo, a Polish dude who likes the piano a lot.
Next up is Nitsua. Don’t be fooled by the pseudo-Japanese-sounding name, it’s just “Austin” backwards–his name is Zack Austin, and he’s some dude from California.
Last is Nomak, another guy from Japan.