‘Me And Mr Jones’ was the only track on ‘Back To Black’ where Winehouse expressed her snotty, ‘Frank’-era sense of humour. The tale of her and rapper Nas’ friendship was told with a bawdy, sailor’s smirk with a killer line (“what kind of fuckery is this”?) that would live on in GIFs forever. Years later, Nas returns the favour with an appearance on ‘Like Smoke’.
The track was recorded in 2008, two years after ‘Back To Black’, and we’re still in that sleek musical world, filled with modish 60s cocktail jazzisms, tremolo guitars and whittled string effects.
However well sculptured the musical surroundings are, though, there’s a definite feeling this should be labelled ‘Nas featuring Amy Winehouse’. Her vocal part is, essentially, a rather beautiful hook repeated, around which ‘Mr Jones’ raps.
Lyrically she’s still stuck on heartbreak hill, trilling with honeyed romantic anguish. “I never wanted you to be my man/ I just need you company,” she moons. It’s cheering to hear that her vocal performance has the ballast of her performance on the Tony Bennett duet ‘Body & Soul’ rather than the chaotic voice she displayed on ‘It’s My Party’.
Nas’ rap is reliable as ever however (who can resist references to Monie Love and the IEG ? Not us) and we’re left with a pleasant, if rather minor addition to the Winehouse legacy.
- Director: Salaam Remi
- Record label: Island
- Release date: 05 Dec, 2011