Best New Music: Kelechief & Amaarae’s intoxicating new single “Fine Wine”
Best New Music: Kelechief & Amaarae’s intoxicating new single “Fine Wine”

Best New Music: Kelechief & Amaarae’s intoxicating new single “Fine Wine”

Ahead of the American-Nigerian's coming album, 'ATLagos'

Kelechief is playing the long game. As far back as the mid-2010s, the rap artist had been garnering attention his chops as a lyricist who deploys obvious technical brilliance in service of music reflecting his reality. After winning a Mountain Dew open call contest, he earned a $50,000 grant to make an album, the resulting project being 2016’s ‘Before the Quarter’, featuring standout tracks like “Play With My Hair” and “Immigrant Son,” detailing his life as a Nigerian born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia.

In the years since, Kelechief has released four projects, each one offering affecting insights into his growth as a person, and generally emphasising his preference for full-length projects as the medium for wholesome expression. While he’s always been upfront about his Nigerian upbringing, mostly within a first generation immigrant context, the last couple of years has seen him embrace that part of his identity even more, evident in the title and content of last year’s ‘Going Home’, and his travel to Nigeria in December 2021, which included a headline show and several live appearances.

In a few days, Kelechief will be releasing his newest album, ‘ATLagos’, a project he’s been teasing in the last few months with a torrent of freestyles and a couple of loose singles. Setting the album up, he’s joined by iconoclastic Ghanaian artist Amaarae on lead single “Fine Wine,” a collaborative choice that proves rewarding. Two years after her glittering debut album, ‘The Angel You Don’t Know’, stacked with standout tracks tracks like Santi and Kojey Radical-assisted “Jumping Ship” and “Celine,” Amaarae’s career has reached new heights. While “SAD GIRLZ LUV MONEY,” featuring fellow Ghanian musician Moliy, was already gaining traction across Africa, the Kali Uchis-assisted remix rocketed into stateside and global hit status, partly helped by TikTok virality.

Since then, Amaarae has sparingly put out new music, engaging with her fans through live performances on stages across the globe, from Koko London to Pitchfork Fest, as she works on a second studio album currently dubbed ‘Fountain Baby.’ It doesn’t mean she’s been radio silent, though. A bonafide feature-killer, she’s bared those seductive fangs on several occasions, including silvery bars on “Born Again” off Santi’s ‘Subaru Boys: Final Heaven’, a sensual showcase on Babyface’s “One Good Thing,” and brief yet indelible appearances on Blaqbonez’s “WHISTLE” and Stormzy’s “This Is What I Mean.”

 

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Amaarae is a song-elevating presence, which puts her high on a lot of artists’ feature list, but there’s a remarkable touch to how Kelechief creates the perfect environment for him and his guest to effortlessly thrive. Self-produced in collaboration with Zane and Steph Swanky, “Fine Wine” is a tantalising record drawing parallels with a love interest and the intoxicating highs of fine wine. The track’s alluring mellow keys lead into Kelechief’s enthralling vocals over the rhythmic percussion of the beat as he immediately confesses just how spell bound he is over his love interest: “Tispy, I might be/ Drunk of your lips I’m a lightweight.”

The mid-tempo track draws deeper as Kelechief’s melodic flow melts into the simple, ultra-effective and sweet-sounding hook. “It’s fine wine, fine wine, fine wine,” he repeats. Midway through the track, Amaarae’s mellifluous vocals and memorable adlibs, buzzing with its usual sensual energy, elevates the song to new heights. “When I’m around you I feel like I’m floating,” Amaarae whispers of her love interest, an all too familiar feeling elevated by the singer’s ethereal touch. Towards the backend of her outstanding verse, the singer switches to a patois-inflected flow, reminiscent of her iconic verse on Santi’s “Rapid Fire”, a nostalgia-based trick she doubles on by interpolating the hook of Santi’s “Sparky”another ‘Mandy & The Jungle’ era classic.

Ahead of his upcoming album ‘ATLagos’, “Fine Wine” shows us the softer, more melodious side of the artist, contrasting his previously built discography around hard-hitting bars. Drawing us further into the project, anticipated to be a stellar combination of unique, Atlanta rap sensibilities and Afropop in Lagos, “Fine Wine” shows just how expansive Kelechief’s sonic landscape can be expanded.

Listen to “Fine Wine” below and presave ‘ATLagos’ here.


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