Nas’ upcoming album is titled Life Is Good, but the track that includes the title phrase carries a mournful undercurrent. On “Cherry Wine,” the latest song to emerge from the rapper’s 10th LP, due out on July 17, the late Amy Winehouse delivers a previously unreleased vocal. The posthumous collaboration is smooth and languidly paced, a contemplative complement to the take-no-prisoners rap of previously emerging album tracks such as “The Don,” “Accident Murderers,” and “Nasty.”
Salaam Remi, a longtime producer for both artists, sets out a gorgeous backdrop, with soft drums, nimbly gliding bass, jazzy guitar chords, sultry horns, and more. Nas, in a relaxed mode, waxes as gracefully about his ideal woman or his attempts at “quiet time” as he does elsewhere about gritty crime stories. But there’s no mistaking Winehouse’s richly emotive vocal hook, which stands out like a splash of red wine on a gray couch, then expands into gorgeously sung scat syllables.
Nas rapped with Winehouse before on “Like Smoke,” from last year’s Lioness: Hidden Treasures, but this one sounds like the keeper. And Nas appears to know it, too, as he concludes this melancholy track acknowledging, “Life is good, life is good, yeah.” It works because “Cherry Wine” remembers the potential darkness that’s always lurking behind even the giddiest buzz.
Stream a radio rip below, or head over to Nah Right for the CD-quality version.