The world got its first taste of href="http://www.mtv.com/music/artist/winehouse_amy/artist.jhtml">Amy Winehouse’s upcoming posthumous album, Lioness: Hidden Treasures, when the late singer’s duet with rapper pal Nas premiered on New York’s Hot 97 on Wednesday.
The tune from the album, due December 6, is called “Like Smoke,” and it was recorded in May 2008 and produced by Amy’s longtime collaborator Salaam Remi. It features Winehouse singing in her signature slurry blues drawl over a classic Motown downbeat as Mr. Jones serves up some of his knotty verses.
In fact, while Winehouse sings the five-line hook on the tune, it is Nas who does the heavy lifting, courtesy of two dense verses packed with references to his personal travails, from love and marriage to taxes, the recession and, way before it was a thing, a line about a tall freak who “wouldn’t protest with me at Wall Street.”
“I never wanted you to be my man/ I just need your company,” Winehouse croons over a loping beat, skittering drums and subtle strings and flute. “Don’t want to get dependent on/ Your time then lose the way you love me/ Like smoke, I hung around.”
Then it’s Nas’ turn, as the MC breaks off his first rapid-fire verse: “It’s not a movie, this is not a script or proofread/ I’ll spit some untruths to dumb fools and groupies/ Fun to punctuate, pronunciate the funds I make.” The rapper, who split with wife Kelis in 2009, then appears to get personal, rhyming, “Like a polygamist, with a twist/ Will I marry again? Maybe, I guess/ I hold a lady’s interest, I just me/ The love scholar, she the teacher’s pet.”
Nas and Winehouse were pals from way back, with the singer name-dropping her New York friend on the track “Me and Mr. Jones” from her breakthrough Back to Black album.
Though a press release about the album said the song was tracked as far back as early 2008, Nas’ second verse feels ripped from the headlines . “Yo, this recession is a test/ It’s affecting my complexion/ Misdirection my affection/ My concerns are bill collections,” he rhymes, going on to complain about the tax man coming after him and some impropriety on the part of his money handlers. “Evaluate the world bank trusts like I’m IEG,” he adds. “Tall freak, she wouldn’t protest with me at Wall Street/ She says, no, you’re so deep.”
He ends his second verse with a tribute to Winehouse, rapping, “NYC to U.K. I might stay there/ Everybody in the club tonight say, ’Yeah’/ You know how me and Amy are, straight players.”
On Thursday (November 3), Hot 97 also premiered another track from the album, “Our Day Will Come,” Amy’s funky reggae take on the 1960s doo-wop tune by Ruby & the Romantics.
Winehouse died in July at age 27 as a result of excessive alcohol intake. Some of the proceeds from the sales of the album will go to the Amy Winehouse Foundation, a charity set up by the singer’s family to fight addiction.
What do you think of the new Winehouse songs?