In 2012, American rapper Nas released “Cherry Wine,” a song featuring vocals from Amy Winehouse that went on to be nominated for the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 55th Grammy Awards. The single, written by Winehouse, Nas, and Saleem Remi, was one of Winehouse’s last few projects before she died on July 23, 2011. The music video, which premiered October 2, 2012, featured Winehouse’s iconic vocals and ended with a tribute to her. The now–classic rap song is haunted by Winehouse’s soulful croons, especially on the line, “I wanna go through my red and my cherry. The song as a whole is beautiful, yet painful. 

Amy Winehouse’s vocals are now back in a way that very few anticipated, and it’s likely the last time the world will hear anything new from her. On “Find My Love,” Remi once again worked with the vocals of Nas and Winehouse, with Winehouse's vocals coming from a previous jam session. The track will be featured on Remi’s forthcoming album Do It For the Culture 2

Opening with Amy’s expressive voice, it’s immediately clear that she is the subject of the song. We get her solo vocals for just a few seconds before it fades into the background behind Nas’ rapping. His performance is a rather predictable expression of 90s to early 2000s hip–hop. Relying more on nostalgia than lyrical excellence, Nas raps about searching for a lost love. Though Amy’s untimely death looms over the entire song, the lyrics are rather one–dimensional and comical. The most quotable lyrics are perhaps, “You got that mac-n-cheese/I swear you're loving the truth/Sundays were made for me and you/Farmer's market, play the pool/Curled up on the couch, watch a documentary or two.” This is certainly not the highest honor for one of the most successful female soul singers, and the rest of the song too fails to convey any profound or lasting messages. Remi’s signature reggae–tinged approach to production—which sounds reminiscent of "Cherry Wine"—comes through midway through the song, adding some complexity to the piece. The song ends with Nas saying “Amy,” before bringing her vocals back in and finishing on a strong note. 

The use of Amy Winehouse’s vocals on this album can be compared to Michael Jackson’s feature on Drake’s "Don’t Matter to Me" from his album Scorpion. Artists take a risk when they feature vocals of music legends posthumously. These contemporary artists must juggle honoring those artists without drawing comparisons or controversy. If not done right, their attempts can perceived as a marketing ruse or, even worse, dishonorable. Unless it’s the lead single off the album, sampling the voices of the dead may not be worth the risk. 

This single is old–school, a return to the past. It’s a predictable track from Nas and Remi, but it leaves the listener wanting more from a song that features a musical star who never feared to mix genres. Out of context, this single works as a return to classic hip–hop. Given Winehouse’s legacy, it falls short.


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