home home radford
Home
Arts
News
Program Guide
Invest
Listen
Local Shows
Contact WVRU
About Us
Tools
Tools
Search Arts
Search Arts
go
ARTS INDEX
NPR
Five Songs By The 'Rhodes Scholar' Keyboardist Of Hip-Hop
Five Songs By The 'Rhodes Scholar' Keyboardist Of Hip-Hop
Professing love for Bob James' music can yield a side-eye in some circles, as his 1970s work is seen as a progenitor to smooth jazz. But he certainly knew his way around a catchy melody and an infectious riff as legions of rap and house producers have discovered through sampling. Professing love for Bob James' music can yield a side-eye in some circles. Jazz purists routinely view the keyboardist's 1970s period as a progenitor to smooth jazz ? an idiom they frequently react to as if it were a sign of the apocalypse.

Nevertheless, James knows his way around the keyboards, and has demonstrated a keen gift for concocting catchy melodies and funky grooves, enticing many R&B and funk fans. His music also seduced legions of hip-hop and deep house producers such as DJ Jazzy Jeff, Q-Tip, Pete Rock, Dr. Dre and Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez. In fact, James' output on the CTI and (his own) Tappan Zee labels is some of the most sampled music in hip-hop.

That's one of the reasons why the new two-disc compilation, Rhodes Scholar: Jazz-Funk Classics 1974-1982, is a motherlode for any DJ looking for jams with a deeper sense of music history that will still ignite dance floors. And don't be surprised if you hear some of today's funk-informed jazz stars such as Robert Glasper, Karriem Riggins and Ben Williams drop a Bob James quote or two in their live performances.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.