While Winehouse laid down her "Like Smoke" vocals in 2008, it appears as though Nas recorded his verses last week. That, or he is hip-hop's Nostradamus: In the second verse, Nas talks about the current financial crisis and raps, "She wouldn't protest with me at Wall Street" and "This recession is a test, it's affecting my complexion, misdirecting my affection, my concern's the bill collection." Listen over at Miss Info.
Between Nas' "Tower Heist" cut, his appearance on Beastie Boys' "Too Many Rappers," and his own single "Nasty," the rapper has been especially sharp in 2011. However, Winehouse is the marquee name here, even though she plays a secondary role on the track. Her opening verse is breathtaking, with Amy showcasing her nuanced voice. The rest of the ride, she adds soulful harmonies for Nas to coast on.
"Like Smoke" was produced by Salaam Remi, a favorite of both Winehouse ("Tears Dry on Their Own," "Just Friends") and Nas ("Nasty," "Made You Look"). Remi was actually the one who introduced the singer to the rapper; a meeting that resulted in the Back to Black track "Me and Mr. Jones." (Nas' birth name is Nasir Jones.)
We thought it'd be hard for Winehouse to ever top her "You Know I'm No Good" collaboration with Ghostface Killah, but "Like Smoke" is excellent. It also serves as a reminder how talented the singer was. So much has been made of Winehouse's wild drug-filled lifestyle, the disoriented concert performances, and her turbulent relationships, but this song proves that the music world lost one of its most unique voices.
- Amy Winehouse