Heavily Sampled Artist Bobby Caldwell Has Passed Away

For more than 45 years, singer, songwriter, and musician Bobby Caldwell blurred the lines of genre with a celebrated, multi-platinum catalog of music that wove together Jazz, R&B, and Soul. Much of that music was inspired by the complexities of romantic relationships. Bobby passed away this week at age 71, following reports of an extended, undisclosed illness. Dâm-Funk, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Questlove, Cosmo Baker, and others have mourned the musician online.

While Smooth Jazz and Adult Contemporary playlists lauded the music, which includes hits “What You Won’t Do For Love,” “Coming Down From Love,” and “All Of My Love,” Hip-Hop and R&B producers gave Caldwell’s music another life entirely.

Here’sAa Gorgeous Mash-Up Of J Dilla, Common, Dwele & Bobby Caldwell (Audio)

Producers Soulshock and Karlin gave Tupac one of his first posthumous hits, “Do For Love,” sampling Caldwell in its music and reworking his chorus. That same Caldwell original provided vocal elements for Aaliyah’s breakthrough “Age Ain’t Nothin’ But A Number.” In 1997, the same year as Pac’s song, Biggie Smalls’ “Sky’s The Limit” (as produced by DJ Clark Kent) with 112 was based around Bobby’s “My Flame.”

In 2000, J Dilla scored one of his biggest hits, producing “The Light” for Common. That song used Caldwell’s music and vocals from “Open Your Eyes” on his sophomore LP. The song became one of Common Sense’s most beloved tracks, as well as an inflection point in the career of the Slum Village producer who joined his Soulquarians on Like Water For Chocolate. That song would eventually be nominated for a Grammy Award. Years after his own 2006 passing, a mixtape belonging to J. Dilla in his archives was found and digitized. That mix included songs from Bobby Caldwell.

15 Years Later, Common’s “The Light” Remains a Shining Example of Hip-Hop Love

Over the last 20-plus years, Lil Nas X’s “Carry On” sampled Bobby Caldwell’s song of the same name. John Legend, Dwele, and others have covered his music. Recently Caldwell teamed with Hip-Hop producer Jack Splash (Kendrick Lamar, Ras Kass, JID) on their 2015 collaboration album Cool Uncle.

Caldwell, a native of New York City, grew up in Miami, Florida. That area, a rich cultural epicenter, exposed Caldwell to a variety of genres. As a guitarist during the 1970s, Bobby’s professional beginnings took shape playing guitar for Little Richard. By the end of the decade, Bobby secured a solo contract at the Miami-based TK Records, where he released his 1978 debut LP. What You Won’t Do For Love became Bobby’s most acclaimed and successful LP, featuring keyboard playing from Benny Latimore (of the namesake band). The two following titles, 1980’s Cat In The Hat, and 1982’s Carry On, each appeared on the Top 200. After launching his career independently, Caldwell ended up on the Polydor Records roster in the 1980s. In addition to Stateside fanfare, Bobby Caldwell’s music was very successful in Japan.

J Dilla Pieced Together Some Of His Musical Influences In This Mixtape (Audio)

Ambrosia For Heads extends condolences to the family and fans of Bobby Caldwell.