Today in Underground I’m going to be talking about not just an album, but a set of records from a series that may have introduce lo-fi hip-hop to the world and that series is Samurai Champloo. The series takes place in an alternate reality version of Japan during the Edo-Era which took place from 1603 until 1868. This version of the Edo-Era, hip-hop was already invented, and everyone knows what it is. Now here where the series shine, while the series itself is an instant classic, the music is what put this series over the top, it was hip-hop but sounded different; it was more relaxed, more instrumental based like what hip-hop was back in the late 80’s and 90’s and this would be later known as lo-fi hip-hop. The series had enough music to release four soundtracks, and I’m going to break down all four to the best of my ability and see what made them stand out.

  • Samurai Champloo Music Record: Masta– This was the first of the four albums, and I have to say it did a good job setting up the other albums. This album was the brainchild of DJ Tsutchie and Force of Nature, a hip-hop duo from Japan. While the record as a whole was a hit and miss when it came to tracks the ones to listen to are Vagrancy, Sliver Children, The Long Way of Drums, Snake Chamber, Snake Chamber, and Pretending To.
  • Samurai Champloo Music Record: Departure – This was the second of the four albums, and this was one of the albums that lay the groundwork for the lo-fi hip-hop. This album was the brainchild of the late Japanese DJ/Producer Nujabes and American MC/Producer Fat Jon. The entire album from start to finish is perfect, just perfect. From the opening track “Battlecry,” to the last track “Shiki No Uta.” this album is hands down one of the best lo-fi hip-hop album of all time next to another record that the series had. If I had to pick two tracks from the album, one each from both Nujabes and Fat Jon in that order, they would be Aruarian Dance and Chambers.
  • Samurai Champloo Music Record: Playlist – This was the third of four albums and to be honest this was the weakest of the four. Tsutchie did this whole album, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t like this album at all. There was no life in this one, and it sounded like he either rushed it or half-ass it. There is no track I would recommend to listen to on this album.
  • Samurai Champloo Music Record: Impression – The last album of the four was a joint effort of Force of Nature, Nujabes and Fat Jon. Like Departure, this was wonderful to listen, and it also sounded like they were trying to one-up each other, and it shows. Each putting a different sound, style and personal touch to each track made this worth the listen too. The tracks I would recommend would be Just Forget, Tsuragi No Mai, Not Quite Seleah, and Who’s Theme.

These albums as a whole work well and pave the way to introduce lo-fi hip-hop to the world. Individually I would rank them as such:

  1. Departure
  2. Impression
  3. Masta
  4. Playlist

give these albums a listen to in any way you can and if you like what you hear, watch the series and you’ll be in for a great surprise.