Of course one of Hip-Hop music’s greatest break beats is a jazz record. “Take Me to the Mardi Gras” by Bob James originally appeared on the jazz fusion artist’s album Two, released in 1975. A pianist arranger and producer, James has numerous records in his catalog that have been raided by producers over the years, especially “Nautilus” from his album One. While “Nautilus” probably has been dissected, stretched and flipped more, don’t snooze on “Take Me to the Mardi Gras.” Opening with some mean drums, before dipping into synthed out keys and chords, the song is a head nodder by itself.
A cover of Paul Simon’s original, James’s version—from the intro, to the bridge to the multiple instruments—has been pillaged by a who’s who of producers looking to put their own stamp on the record and make a fresh groove. Since Mardi Gras kicks off today, here are some of the most notable uses of “Take Me To The Mardi Gras.”
Run-DMC “Peter Piper” Raising Hell
Back when rocking vinyl was a requirement, any DJ worthy his weight in turntables had a well worn pair of Run-DMC’s “Peter Piper” in their creates. The late Jam Master Jay cuts up the original to perfection while the sturdy drums over a sample of the original’s bells lead Run and DMC in an all out rap sprint.
Ghostface Killah “Flowers” Bulletproof Wallets
Pretty Toney over a classic break is always a win. Add in Raekwon, Method Man and Superb over silky chimes and strings and you have an underrated heater. Do yourself a favor and listen to the original (the album version replays the sample but loses its murkiness.)
Before cerebral rhyming was par for the course, the Bronx’s T La Rock was dropping lyrically sharp bars. “Breaking Bells” (not to be confused with the Crash Crew’s version) is track from back in 1986 that doesn’t nearly get enough love.
Only a few years ago Just Blaze incorporated the opening drum lick of “Take Me to the Mardis Gras on Jay-Z’s shots at his detractors. We got this info from WhoSampled.com, so please forgive if we’re dry snitching.
Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo “Death Wish” Wanted: Dead or Alive
Eric B got the credit, but it’s a safe bet that the Large Professor is who actually put this one together. So much for the cheery vibe of the original as Kool G. Rap comes through with nothing verbal menace.
Missy Elliott “Work It” Under Construction
Missy Elliottand Timbaland made old school sensibilities trendy by dropping a little “Peter Piper” into her 2002 smash hit. Bonus points if you remember Elliott was on Gina Thompson’s “The Things That You Do (Remix),” which also samples Bob James’ record.