From the moment she burst onto the international scene with “Rehab,” Amy Winehouse — the British belter who died Saturday in her London apartment — was embraced by the hip-hop community, and she embraced it right back. It wasn’t enough for her to get Jay-Z or Ghostface Killah to appear on remixes of her hits (which she did); she wanted to work with them, record proper tracks with them.
This was nothing new, of course: Even before she broke big with her Back to Black album, Winehouse was bringing hip-hop into the fold. She recorded her debut disc, Frank, with producer Salaam Remi (who had worked extensively with Nas and on the Fugees’ epochal The Score). And her early single “In My Bed” sampled the iconic “Apache” beat from Nas’ Remi-produced “Made You Look.”
But, finally riding high on the success of Black, Winehouse hoped to use some of her newfound clout to finally realize some of her hip-hop dreams, as she told MTV News in a May 2007 interview.
“There’s so many people I’d love to work with: Nas, Mos Def . I’d love to work with Busta Rhymes, I’d love to work with Rah Digga … I love them,” she said. “I learned a lot of stuff about how to write songs from people like that. I just really like them, and if they like my stuff, cool. … If they want to do a track, I’d love to.”
Of course, she’d go on to actually make some of those projects happen, in one form or another. She recorded a version of “Love is a Losing Game” with Mos Def during a 2007 performance on MTV — a performance that will re-air on the channel Wednesday (July 27) at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT, as part of a tribute special to Winehouse ’s musical legacy. She also made headlines when she stepped out with Nas (about whom she sang on the Black track “Me & Mr. Jones”) in London last year.
Winehouse was reportedly set to collaborate with Digga on the female rapper’s Sucker Free project, though it’s unclear whatever became of the team-up. And in 2008, Busta famously joked that Winehouse wouldn’t return his phone calls.
Celebrate Amy Winehouse on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT, when MTV will air an encore presentation of a performance she taped in the MTV studios in 2007.