Mr. Nas Jones comes again with a second posthumous collaboration with his late and great friend Amy Winehouse. Last fall we got a haunting first listen to what the two could do together with “Like Smoke,” off of Winehouse’s posthumous album Lioness: Hidden Treasures. And today, we get a second go with “Cherry Wine,” off of Nas’s upcoming Life Is Good.
The six-minute track is a jazzy and somewhat melancholic affair. It opens with Winehouse singing longingly of the man of her dreams. “Where is he, the man who is just like me? I heard he is hiding somewhere where I can see,” she wallows, her voice as sweet and soulful as ever. Her Mr. Jones, too, is looking for the woman of his dreams, a someone who can “teach me how to life, she’s not afraid of life.” Even though Nas’s verses were recorded after Winehouse’s passing, there is chemistry between the two. Thanks for this is perhaps due to the song’s producer Salaam Remi, a longtime collaborator of both vocalists. It’s hard not to wonder what — as successful as their posthumous collaborations have been — the two might have accomplished together in Winehouse’s prime. But alas this will have to do, and it does well. “Everything is good, everything is fine, pour a little cherry wine,” Nas reminds at the end of his verse. “Life is good, no matter what, life is good.”
Listen to “Cherry Wine” [HHNM]
B.o.B. continues to think outside the box with his sophomore album, Strange Clouds. Elements of various musical genres —from hip-hop to jazz to country— can be heard throughout. The singer, songwriter, rapper and producer skyrocketed to success with his two monster smashes “Nothin’ On You” and “Airplanes”, both crossover tracks that featured somewhat unlikely artists singing the hook (Bruno Mars and Hayley Williams, respectively). Based on how commercially successful each of these songs were, it seems as if B.o.B. is eager to try replicate their success, as he’s recruited a number of collaborators for tracks on his new album. Whether they are household names like Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift, or newcomers like Lauriana Mae, the variety of artists on the album is quite impressive. We ranked each of the songs that feature other artists, and it’s not what you’d expect.
9. “Strange Clouds” feat. Lil Wayne – We don’t know what’s up with Weezy, but his flow hasn’t quite been the same since he got outta the joint. A song about partying, drinking and smoking all night has to have an element to it that makes the listener want to partake in the fun. We don’t know if it’s believable here.
8. “Out Of My Mind” feat. Nicki Minaj: We’re getting an outer space vibe on this one. And is it just us or did B.O.B. slightly sound like Ludacris? Either way, Nicki does what she does best on this track. She plays with different animated voices, she raps, she sings. Repeat. It’s fine, but it’s nothing transcendent.
7. “Arena” feat. Chris Brown and T.I.: It’s Chris Brown and T.I., folks! Not sure that much else needs to be written other than with this trio we’re certain it will be a fan favorite.
The 54th Annual Grammy Awards won’t be televised until 8 p.m. ET/PT tonight, but just because CBS hasn’t turned their cameras yet doesn’t mean that the festivities haven’t already gotten underway. A handful of awards have already been given away this evening at the Pre-Telecast Grammy ceremony, and the evening’s big winners so far include controversial rap genius Kanye West and the electronic dubstep artist Skrillex.
Ye has pocketed three Grammys thus far, winning Best Rap Album for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (where it topped his collaboration with Jay-Z, Watch The Throne) and Best Rap Collaboration and Best Rap Song for that album’s single “All of the Lights.” The ultra buzzy DJ Skrillex has taken home three awards, too (Best Dance/Electronica Album, Best Dance Recording, and Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical). This early trifecta of trophies bodes well for his chances to pull an upset in the Best New Artist category later tonight, and he just posted this inspirational tweet to his official @skrillex account.
Other winners so far tonight include Tony Bennett, Amy Winehouse, Foo Fighters and Betty White. (Yes, that Betty White.)
For live Grammy commentary all night, be sure and follow us on Twitter at @vh1music!
Skrillex, Kanye West, Foo Fighters Among Pre-Telecast Grammy Winners [Billboard]
[Photo: Getty Images]
Listen To Katy Perry’s Country Turn In A Leaked Demo For “Bullet”
If you’ve ever wondered what Katy Perry would sound like doing country, then here you go; a demo has leaked of Katy Perry singing a song called “Bullet” she co-wrote for country star Jesse James‘ debut album in 2009. We hope Katy sticks to her pop roots, but we’re sort of loving this little lick of country. [Neon Limelight]
Rihanna Is Called Out For “Ripping Off” Photographer
The latest in A Big Celebrity Copied Me, Rihanna is being accused by blogger Bryan Derballa of “ripping off” the work of photographer Sandy Kim in her video for “We Found Love.” We see some similarities, but we’d only go as far to say “inspired by” and even then it’s tenuous, with so much recent “hipster” photography tending towards the aesthetic that “We Found Love” is going for. [Bryan Derballa]
2011 has been a big year in music, and between the Grammys, new babies, viral artists and some great losses, the music world has been rocked over and over again. With only a few days left until we wave goodbye to 2011, we’re reflecting on the 10 biggest stories of the year…
1. Beyoncé’s Pregnancy
Forget actual music — who cares about music when the Queen Of Everything is pregnant? It seemed like all anyone was talking about in 2011 was Beyoncé‘s pregnancy, from the initial, dramatic reveal during her VMAs performance of “Love On Top,” to the controversy surrounding the realness of her baby bump. And now the world waits with baited breath for the chosen one to emerge from the most revered womb on earth.
Florence Welch, lead chanteuse of Florence + The Machine, is certainly one of the MVPs of VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul. She performed three songs tonight: “Shake It Out” (the new single off the band’s Ceremonials), “Back To Black” (as part of the evening’s Amy Winehouse tribute), and “Walking On Broken Glass” (which you can watch below).
Here, we put a spotlight on Florence’s haunting cover of the title track of album that turned Amy Winehouse into an international superstar back in 2007. She cut quite a figure with her floor length black dress, which was incredibly appropriate considering the circumstances. The music world lost an immense talent this year with Amy’s tragic passing, but thanks to powerful performances like Florence Welch’s tonight, Winehouse’s musical legacy is cemented in stone.
Follow along for Florence’s jubilant take on Annie Lennox‘s “Walking On Broken Glass.”
Nirvana Are Re-Releasing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” To Vie For Number One
We swear the late Kurt Cobain turns in his grave every time something like this happens. Nirvana decided to re-release “Smells Like Teen Spirit” when it came to the surviving band’s attention that fans were rallying to make the classic song Britain’s Christmas Number One over whoever takes out the X Factor crown. Sigh. [NME]
Lady Gaga Goes To The White House To Battle Bullies
Lady Gaga really does love her ‘Little Monsters.’ So much so, she’s heading to the White House to chat with Obama‘s administration about combating bullying. Go go Gaga activism! [Popdust]
The highly anticipated posthumous album Amy Winehouse Lioness: Hidden Treasures was officially released today amidst mixed reviews and high emotion. Amy‘s father, Mitch Winehouse, has expressed how emotional the process of producing the album has been, saying, “The estate, which I’m a part of – my ex-wife and I – we could decide to put it out or not put it out, and when we went to listen to the album it was a very difficult time for us. It was very emotional.” It seemed, on all accounts, that the sheer poignancy of Amy’s death would be enough to carry the album, and to have it connect with her legions of fans and admirers. However, the album, now released, has been met with mixed reviews.
The Seattle Post Intelligencer calls Lioness: Hidden Treasures “sublime,” “nostalgic, wine-soaked heaven.” The Guardian, however, was not so forgiving, acknowledging that the album is revealing of Amy’s struggles, but that it is subpar considering the strength of Frank and Back To Black. Cynically, the Guardian review surmises, “Presumably it was felt that was what was wanted by the audience Lioness: Hidden Treasures is expected to attract: not the kind of diehard fans who normally flock to posthumous collections of out-takes and demos, but mainstream record buyers, Radio 2 listeners, the Christmas market. Which, of course, tells you something else about Amy Winehouse,” positioning the album essentially as a cash grab by Amy’s estate.
Soul music veterans Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings are VH1′s latest You Oughta Know artist, just in time for the release of Soul Time!, the band’s forthcoming release of rare tracks and b-sides. Since 1996, Sharon and the Dap-Kings have been at the forefront of funk and soul revivalism, capturing the spirit of the genre as it blossomed in the ’60s and ’70s. Using traditional analog recording methods and equipment, SJDK have no use for modernity, and are loyal to the authenticity of their sound.
The band was originally formed by Philip Lehman and Gabriel Roth as the Soul Providers in the mid-nineties, and discovered Sharon Jones during early recording sessions for their first album, after she recorded back-up vocals for one of the Lee Fields tracks. So impressed were the Soul Providers with Jones’ vocals that the album, Soul Tequila, was released in 1996 featuring two solo Jones tracks (“Switchblade” and “The Landlord”). Shortly after, Roth and Lehman started a new label, Desco Records, in Brooklyn, New York, and reissued Soul Tequila as Gimme The Paw and began championing New York performers, creating an entire scene around Desco. As the reputation of Desco grew and more records were released, it eventually came time for Lehman and Roth to split in 2000 — and for Roth to start his own label, Daptone Records, with current Dap-King tenor saxophone player, Neal Sugarman. You can see where this is going, right?
With the release date of Amy Winehouse’s first posthumous album, Amy Winehouse Lioness: Hidden Treasures creeping up, emotions are raw. The release, due but 4 months after the singer’s untimely death, is revealing itself to be part of a very important healing process for Amy’s friends and family.
A far cry from a cash-grab, the album is reportedly an incredibly emotional, not to mention immpecably produced, project; not just for those surriving her, but for Amy herself, as friend and collaborator Salaam Remi recounts to Rolling Stone how the troubled performer broke down during their recording sessions. “Playing guitar and singing into a small hand-held mic, Winehouse unleashed a devastating version of “A Song for You,” Leon Russell’s pained ballad about an entertainer’s regrets. As she sang, Winehouse began to cry. “It’s as if she was literally singing about herself,” Remi recalls. “She was really putting herself into it.””