Who Flipped It Better? MC Serch vs. Dilated Peoples
The Sample: Mahavishnu Orchestra - 'You Know You Know' (1971)
Mahavishnu Orchestra is proof of divine existence. The jazz/rock fusion band headed by English guitarist John McLaughlin touches a part of the soul usually only accessed in the wee hours of the morning. Mixing parts of Indian music (a lot of sitar), Mahavishnu Orchestra laid the foundation for successful fusion bands in the '70s with it's biggest album, 'The Inner Mounting Flame,' releasing one year after Miles Davis' landmark 'Bitches Brew' LP, which McLaughlin was also featured on.
The 1971 album does everything right. Tension rises and dissolves, chaos vanishes into order in a split second, and McLaughlin shreds his guitar for all 61 minutes. Towards the end of the record is today's sample, 'You Know You Know,' a song so contemplative, you can close your eyes and be transported to a cave in the Himalayas just by listening.
Flip 1: MC Serch - 'Hits The Head' (Prod. by Skeff Anslem) 
Skeff Anslem, he gets props too. If you know your early rap, MC Serch of the legendary 3rd Bass is a familiar name, but Skeff might be a little more arcane, Tribe reference aside. As a producer/engineer, the Bronx native worked with Brand Nubian, Heavy D, Diamond D, D-Nice, and of course, Tribe Called Quest, yet he never got the props he deserved. Perhaps it was his personality -- Diamond D went on record saying Skeff "looked down" on the D.I.T.C. legend -- but at least we still have this slamming beat from Serch's solo debut, 'Return Of The Product.'
Flip 2: Dilated Peoples - 'Let Your Thoughts Fly Away' (Prod. by Diamond D) 
Weirdly enough, Diamond D ended up flipping the exact same sample more than 20 years later, perhaps to prove that he could one-up the guy who once looked down upon him. The Dilated Peoples track is in the same soothing vein as the Mahavishnu Orchestra original, and it builds a bit like Anslem's beat does. It starts with simple drums before Diamond eases the strings in and then fills out the beat with the bassline. It's spare but appropriate for the song's interiority, and Diamond's continues to drop little Easter egg sound effects throughout the song.
Skeff's loop is the exact same portion of the opening melody that Diamond uses, only sped up. That tempo, combined with the crashing drums that simultaneously drop when Serch notches up his energy, gives the song an upbeat, "let's go break some sh-t" feeling. Diamond's sample is closer to the original's mood - mellow, dark, calm. Even the title of the Dilated Peoples song, 'Let Your Thoughts Fly Away,' falls in line with the fusion band's Eastern leanings.
With that juxtaposition in mind, Skeff takes the upper hand. Diamond's beat is tough, no doubt about it, but while he follows the sample's lead, Skeff flips it into something else entirely by harnessing a serene song and making it raucous The Diamond flip makes sense; Skeff's doesn't -- and that's what makes it more rewarding.