OK so I’ve been a fan for a few years now of Bob James whom I discovered for myself after trying to find out what the sample was for Ghostface killah’s track daytona 500. I was pleasantly surprised to find the wonderful jazz musician Bob James and after listening to a few tracks I was hooked. As I slowly worked my way through his music I discovered that this man has been sampled to hell and back for countless hip hop classics. But more on that later first let me tell you a bit about the man himself.

The career of Bob James is long, varied and continues to evolve at every turn. From his first days of piano recital in Marshall, Missouri to his own trio while at the University of Michigan to New York City and beyond, the music of Bob James has captivated audiences throughout the world.

Discovered by Quincy Jones at the Notre Dame Jazz Festival in 1963, Bob recorded his first solo album, Bold Conceptions, that year for Mercury Records. 36 more solo albums would follow through four decades;

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that number is just to date and does not include his Grammy award winning collaboration projects. During the 1970s, Bob James played a major role in establishing the smooth jazz genre. “Angela”, the instrumental theme from the sitcom Taxi, is probably Bob James’ most well-known work to date. He is also well-known for the smooth jazz classics “Nautilus” and “Westchester Lady”, the latter from the album Bob James Three.

For their first joint album release, One on One, Earl Klugh and Bob James received a Grammy award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance of 1981. James is the founding member of contemporary jazz supergroup Fourplay and is a Yamaha Artist.

James also received a Grammy award for his collaboration with David Sanborn on the 1986 album “Double Vision”

Very influenced by pop and movie music, James has often featured soloists who add a jazz touch to his sound (most notably Grover Washington, Jr.). In 1962, James began recording a bop-ish trio set for Mercury. Three years later, his album for ESP was quite avant-garde, with electronic tapes used for effects. After a period with Sarah Vaughan (1965-1968), he became a studio musician, appearing with Stanley Turrentine and Milt Jackson on the 1972 album Cherry and with Turrentine on his following album Don’t Mess with Mister T. (1973), and that same year was arranging and working as a producer for CTI. In 1974, James recorded his first purely commercial effort as a leader; he later made big-selling albums for his own Tappan Zee label, Columbia, and Warner Bros., including collaborations with Earl Klugh and David Sanborn.


James is recognized as one of the progenitors of smooth jazz. His music has also had a profound effect on the history of hip hop music, having been sampled often. Two of James’ songs – “Nautilus” from 1974’s One and “Take Me to the Mardi Gras” from 1975’s Two – are among the most sampled in hip hop history. “Nautilus” has been most famously sampled in Eric B. & Rakim’s “Follow the Leader”, Run-D.M.C.’s “Beats to the Rhyme”, Ghostface Killah’s “Daytona 500” and Jeru the Damaja’s “My Mind Spray” amongst many others and the notes of “Nautilus'” bassline were played on a keyboard for Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story”. “Nautlius” and “Take Me to Mardi Gras” have been sampled in thirty-two and forty-three hip-hop recordings, respectively. The first four measures of “Mardi Gras” (a Paul Simon original) includes a bell and drum groove that is one of hip hop’s fundamental breakbeats. Run-D.M.C.’s “Peter Piper”, LL Cool J’s “Rock the Bells”, the Beastie Boys’ “Hold it Now, Hit it”, Missy Elliott’s “Work It,” Will.i.am’s “I Got it from my Mama,”, “This Is Me (Urban Remix)” by girl group Dream for their debut album It Was All a Dream, “I Want You” from Common’s Finding Forever, and most recently “Take It Back” from Wu-Tang Clan’s 8 Diagrams.

Röyksopp sampled his version of the Stylistics song “You’re as Right as Rain” for their instrumental track “Eple.” The title track from his 1981 album Sign of the Times was sampled in De La Soul’s “Keepin’ the Faith”, and Warren G’s “Regulate”. In addition, James is mentioned in a verse by André 3000 on “Black Ice” from Goodie Mob’s second album Still Standing.

His “Angela” was sampled in the track “Cab Fare” by Souls of Mischief, an out-take from their album No Man’s Land.

The track “El Verano” from the 1977 album “BJ4” is used as a sample in the song “Blown Away” by the Cocoa Brovaz and also in the Masta Ace Track “NY Confidential”.

English Drum & Bass pioneer Adam F extensively sampled “Westchester Lady” on his 1995 breakthrough release Circles.

One’s “Night on Bald Mountain” is used in the video game God Hand, and forms the soundtrack to a level of the same name.

N.W.A’s ‘Alwayz into Somethin uses a sample of Bob James’s track ‘Storm King’ on the album ‘Bob James Three’.

“Nautilus” was used in video game developer Rockstar’s “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” on the fictional radio station, Master Sounds 98.3.

Below are some examples for your ears to vibe with the Bob James track first then the tracks that have sampled him after. have a good listen its great to hear the variations in how artists have used the sample for themselves. Enjoy!

[wpaudio url=”https://www.thewordisbond.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/bob-james-Nautilus.mp3″ text=”Bob James – Nautilus” dl=”0″]
[wpaudio url=”https://www.thewordisbond.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Eric-B-Rakim-Follow-The-Leader.mp3″ text=”Eric B & Rakim – Follow The Leader” dl=”0″]
[wpaudio url=”https://www.thewordisbond.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Run-DMC-Beats-To-The-Rhyme.mp3″ text=”Run DMC – Beats To The Rhyme” dl=”0″]
[wpaudio url=”https://www.thewordisbond.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Ghost-Face-Killah-Daytona-500.mp3″ text=”Ghost Face Killah – Daytona 500″ dl=”0″]
[wpaudio url=”https://www.thewordisbond.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Jeru-The-Damaja-My-Mind-Spray.mp3″ text=”Jeru The Damaja – My Mind Spray” dl=”0″]

[wpaudio url=”https://www.thewordisbond.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Bob-James-Take-Me-to-the-Mardi-Gras.mp3″ text=”Bob James – Take Me to the Mardi Gras” dl=”0″]
[wpaudio url=”https://www.thewordisbond.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Run-DMC-Peter-Piper.mp3″ text=”Run DMC – Peter Piper” dl=”0″]
[wpaudio url=”https://www.thewordisbond.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/LL-Cool-J-Rock-The-Bells.mp3″ text=”LL Cool J – Rock The Bells” dl=”0″]
[wpaudio url=”https://www.thewordisbond.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Beastie-Boys-Hold-It-NowHit-It.mp3″ text=”Beastie Boys – Hold It Now Hit It” dl=”0″]

[wpaudio url=”https://www.thewordisbond.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Bob-James-Angela-Theme-from-Taxi.mp3″ text=”Bob James – Angela ” dl=”0″]

Now to help you further connect with Bob James there is an interview the beginning is in German so stick with it and when the interview drops its all in English and very informative.

Now get out there and see what other hip hop tracks you can find that have Bob James killin it.

Peace out


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