Nicolay "Nautilus (A Tribute to Bob James)"

Nicolay "Nautilus (A Tribute to Bob James)"
Along with James Brown's "Funky Drummer," Melvin Blisss's "Synthetic Substitution" and the Honeydrippers' "Impeach the President," "Nautilus" by Bob James qualifies as one of the most important and most sampled records in hip-hop history. James may be best known for "Angela," which became the theme song for the TV show Taxi, but many of his tracks have been cribbed for hip-hop tracks, with "Nautilus" turning up on Run DMC's "Beats to the Rhyme" and Ghostface Killah's "Daytona 500" among countless others.

Remaking "Nautilus" isn't a task that one would take on lightly, but Nicolay, the producer comprising one-half of eclectic soul outfit Foreign Exchange has just decided to let his version out of the vault for free downloading. Apparently, back in 2006, the Dutch-born producer was approached to work on a project called "Sampling Bob James: The Nautilus Project" and he delivered a total re-working of the track from scratch sans samples, for a project that has yet to see the light of day.

While Nicolay's version adheres to the basic structure of original blueprint, it's evident he's applied his own distinctive touches instead of trying to ape the peerless original that appeared on the jazz fusion artist James' 1974 album One or even the cover version Nuyorican Soul laid down on their eponymous 1997 outing.

Nicolay's inimitably clean percussion sound a little crisper than the original's dusty style and his keyboard solo goes its own route before bowing down to a faux-brass section and some open drums. Nicolay even excises a couple of the track's more recognizable moments to put his own stamp on the track.

People looking to hear more of Nicolay's production style can check him out on tour with the Foreign Exchance in Toronto early next month when he will be performing along with musical co-conspirator Phonte of Little Brother as part of a seven-piece band in support of their sophomore album Leave It All Behind.

6/5: Toronto, Ontario -€“ Revival

Click here to listen to Nicolay -€“ "Nautilus (A Tribute to Bob James)."