The Sample: Ennio Morricone - 'Piume Di Cristallo' (1971)

When I die, play Ennio Morricone at my funeral. Just listen to that song above. If you don't want to ascend to heaven (or, in my case, shoot straight to hell) to this music, you should probably just be on your way already. S--t, the song's title means 'Crystal Plumage.' Dude was a visionary genius.

Here's his short story: He was a child prodigy who started making music when he was six. When he was 12, he enrolled in a four-year harmony course at Rome's Accademia di Santa Cecilia and finished it in record time. After playing the trumpet in Roman night clubs and composing music for television, he became a studio arranger for RCA, and in 1961 he scored his first movie. It's almost like the unborn hand of hip-hop slang sent him upon a divine path: the film was called 'Il Federale,' a term rappers often use to describe feds (even though it means 'fascist' in Italian).

From there, he essentially monopolized Spaghetti Western soundtracks, eventually making his name as famous as the directors of the movies he scored: 'A Fistful Of Dollars' in 1964 (Sergio Leone), 'Days of Heaven' in 1978 (Terrence Malik), 'The Untouchables' in 1987 (Brian DePalma), and on and on. You can't think about classics of the genre like 'Once Upon A Time In America' and 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly' without thinking of Morricone's whimsical orchestration.

Flip 1: G-Unit - 'My Buddy' (Prod. by Thayod Ausar, Eminem & Luis Resto) [2003]

The Morricone sample on this G-Unit cut is hard to spot at first. Just listening to how the beat progresses can clue you in to who did what; the initial strings sound straight out of Em's production kit, the drums have that crisp Luis Resto flavor, and perhaps Ausar brought the samples in (there's actually another Morricone sample in 'My Buddy' - that short drum roll at :05 is from 'The Ecstasy Of Gold'). But perhaps the illest part of the beat is that ghostly harmony in the background. The song is about guns, and that chorus of voices sounds like they're beckoning you to the afterlife. It's perfect.

Flip 2: Flying Lotus - 'Turtles' (2014)

Flying Lotus took a more comprehensive approach to Morricone's composition. He's a known Ennio fanatic; in 2012, prior to his 'Until The Quiet Comes' LP, he told Metro, "I’m into soundtracks. My iPod is filled with Hans Zimmer, John Williams , Ennio Morricone." His brand new album 'You're Dead!' even sounds like a soundtrack to enlightenment, and 'Turtles' is no exception. It uses 'Piume ...' as a bed of flowers, and FlyLo is the bee that jumps off a petal and starts improvising his own zig-zag pattern in the air. He live-tweeted the album this week and said 'Turtles' was the song that almost didn't make it on the album. "Such a big morricone. Sample. [sic] I thought it would be more trouble to keep it than it was worth. I'm glad I did because I really do like it," he said of the song. "I almost had Laura Darlington sing on this but I think there's charm in the simplicity of it."

LOL at Flying Lotus calling this song simple. In the context of 'You're Dead!' it's clearly one of the less complex songs, but listen to the percussion, the electronic bloops that he syncopates, even that air-bending bass. Some young producer probably quit on the spot when he saw FlyLo talk about this song's "simplicity," but his genius is in making hectic music sound neat and ordered. In that regard, 'You're Dead!' is very much a jazz album, where disparate, often dissonant sounds merge beautifully without making too much sense. He told Pitchfork, "I wanted it to be playful, because [death is] the one experience we have in common. I wanted to make something that captures death from different angles—from the sad moments, to the confusing moments, to maybe even the blissful and silly ones.”

FlyLo layers the sample's vocals with that shimmering triangle, incorporating the initial feel of Morricone's song without completely ripping it off. 'My Buddy' lifts the chilling harmony that adds just the right amount of grimness to give the song a frown, but that's all. 'My Buddy' incorporates the sample; Flying Lotus built on it.

So this week, the mad hatter FlyLo wins. 'You're Dead!' might be his masterpiece, and the secret formula is contained within 'Turtles' - make the intricate sound accessible. That's what geniuses do.