The Sample: Rick James - 'Hollywood' (1978)

Weed is a hell of a drug. For instance: Rick James once found himself at a party in Hawaii with Salvador Dali. The Spanish Surrealist stared at James for a while before coming over and asking if he could draw a portrait of the star. Dali sketched a picture on a napkin in about 15 or 20 minutes and gave it to Rick, but the next day James smoked a spliff and jumped in the pool with the napkin in his pocket. A gem casually ruined by a joint.

Cocaine is also a hell of a drug. For instance: When James made his national TV debut on American Bandstand, he charmed the whole audience. Perhaps he'd given himself a little ski lift, because his nose started drooling onstage thanks to all the yayo he'd snorted before coming out. Whoops.

Best of all, Rick James' music is a hell of a drug. It makes your knees buckle and your mind swirl. He's like James Brown if Brown had fully embraced his own drug abuse and integrated it into freaky music. 'Hollywood' is evidence of that -- it's somber, but not depressing. He sings goodbye to momma and poppa as he goes off to Hollywood, but it's hopeful, not painful. It even breaks into a dub jam of sorts by the end.

Flip 1: Three 6 Mafia - 'Da Summa' (Prod. by DJ Paul & Juicy J) [1995]

DJ Paul and Juicy J were the production geniuses behind Three 6 Mafia, as well as two of many incredibly proficient MCs in the Hypnotize Camp posse. Crunchy Black, Gangsta Boo, Koopsta Knicca, and the late Lord Infamous were all outstanding rappers in their own right, but without DJ Paul and Juicy J, the group wouldn't have created the sound it introduced to rap.

'Da Summa' was perhaps the most iconic song from Three 6's seminal 'Mystic Stylez' LP, recognized as their first official album, although the 'Locced Out Smoked Out' tape had dropped a year before in '94. It's all in those chimes or keys or whatever instrument plays that first melody at :11 of 'Hollywood.' Xylophone maybe? Whatever it is, you can recognize it in an instant. Perfect for getting fried.

Flip 2: Big K.R.I.T. - 'Steps' (Feat. Big Sant & Smoke DZA) [Prod. by Big K.R.I.T.] (2014)

Big K.R.I.T. did something totally different with it. A quick one-two synth stab is answered by one high note from the eleven that play at :11 of 'Hollywood.' K.R.I.T. attaches that single high note to the snare, giving the sample a more percussive effect. His beat is also a lot busier drum-wise than Paul and Juicy's beat, so it brings Rick's loop to life a bit more. It's just another brilliantly subtle example of why K.R.I.T. is an infinitely better producer than he is a rapper.

Three 6 Mafia's song is a classic. It sounds carved out of a 4.a.m. blunt ride, and Ann Hines added the perfect touch of Blue Raspberry to it. K.R.I.T. is the equivalent of a deacon who can't stop bumping Screw tapes and hitting the strip club, if only for the food. He knew if he touched 'Da Summa,' he'd have to freak it completely differently, and he did.

Tagging the single note to the snare ups the energy and ties the sample to the percussion, while Paul and Juicy let the synth lounge in between the drums for a more drugged out feel. K.R.I.T. isn't about all that lollygagging, and he's definitely not down to just jack the same Three 6 sample and create an identical vibe on his song. He raps, "You could never be the same because you ain't got no change" at the end of his verse, but it's the beat that proves it.