Elijah Nang is a storyteller. With a brush of boom-bap he depicts landscapes and narrates travels, mostly across Japan’s countryside and through its teeming cities. Nang loves anime and maintains an obsessive enthusiasm for the Land of the Rising Sun that shines with brilliance in his beats. Others before him have spliced Western hip-hop with Eastern anime, most notably Nujabes, to whom Nang pays tribute with multiple songs including “Yuki Pt.II 降雪” and “Sunburst 太陽”. Nang picked up where the others left off, and continues to elevate the Eastern beats aesthetic to transcendent heights.
Nang’s sonic journeys correspond to his actual travels. He communicates his experiences through songs like “Shibuya Lights 渋谷” in which rippling percussion and piano samples create a glistening night skyline, or “Kyoto Evening [To Be Continued]” in which Koto samples and a jostling low-pass filter depict a city’s bustling but reserved nightlife. The Koto is a traditional Japanese string instrument and its appears across Nang’s body of work, including a delightfully subtle introduction at the end of “Bonsai 盆栽”. Sampling this native instrument is one way by which Nang evokes the East, similar to hand drums conjuring images of the Indian subcontinent, or certain orchestral melodies evoking the Balkans.
A worldly fellow, Nang hails from London, has Nigerian heritage, attended high-school in Missouri (if Facebook can be trusted), and psychologically occupies Japan. He's been producing since 2006. He’s made music for rappers and used to rap himself, but now he's all about the instrumentals. This decade plus of experience in the breaks is reflected in the consistently high quality of his production. Nothing Nang produces is substandard. His beats could be construed as overly formulaic, as certain patterns are repeated across his catalog. The formula’s ingredients, however, are so delicious and fulfilling. Anyway, it’s this very repetition that can hypnotize a listener, allowing him or her to sink so deeply into the grooves.
Nang’s most recent release, Lost in Japan II, was released in January of 2018 and is available for download on the artist’s Bandcamp. Singles from this enchanting LP dropped months ahead of its release, including the cathartic “Haru” which was included on Chillhop Music’s 2017 Spring Essentials compilation. Past releases include Lost in Japan, Travel EP, and the Imagination EP from three years ago in which the foundation of Nang’s current sound can be heard. We sincerely look forward to more music from this prolific producer, when perhaps he will be lost in Cambodia, or Korea, or elsewhere. Until then, beats for days are available on Nang’s Soundcloud. We've lined up 20 favorites for this lazy lo-fi Sunday.