14. Rick James "Mary Jane" (1978)
Album: Come Get It!
Producer: Art StewartAlthough the late punk-funker Rick James would go down in history as Black pop's most notorious cocaine cowboy—and comic fodder for Dave Chappelle—there's no denying the stone-cold genius behind “Mary Jane,” a track that combined elements of rock, pop, and doo-wop.
Working alongside underrated producer Art Stewart, who engineered and produced for such Motown luminaries as Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, wild boy James' brilliant song about buds paved the way for a whole puff, puff, pass generation of hip-hop and soul heads including Cypress Hill, Snoop Dogg and D'Angelo.
While coke, a least for Rick, was an evil drug that contributed to his decline, the brother could always count on Mary Jane to turn him on “with her love” and take him to paradise. Without a doubt, many parents might have thought their kids were listening to a love song about “the girl next-door,” but of course it was all about getting lifted.