This week’s prompt for Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday Challenge is City/County/Country/State/Town. Places like New York and California feature prominently, so what do I have in my archives that fits the bill? How about New York: Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keys?
Alicia Keys is an American singer-songwriter, actress and classically-trained pianist. Keys released her debut album, Songs in A Minor in 2001. The album was critically and commercially successful, producing her first Billboard Hot 100 number-one single and selling over 12 million copies worldwide. The album earned Keys five Grammy Awards in 2002.
Her second album, The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003), was also a critical and commercial success, spawning successful singles and selling eight million copies worldwide. The album garnered her an additional four Grammy Awards. Her duet My Boo with Usher became her second number-one single in 2004. Keys released her first live album, Unplugged (2005), and became the first woman to have an MTV Unplugged album debut at number one. Her third album, As I Am (2007), sold 7 million copies worldwide and earned her an additional three Grammy Awards.
Her fourth album, The Element of Freedom (2009), became her first chart-topping album in the UK, and sold 4 million copies worldwide. In 2009, Keys also collaborated with Jay Z on “Empire State of Mind”, which became her fourth number-one single and won the Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
Empire State of Mind is recognized as a modern-day anthem for New York City. Both Jay-Z (Brooklyn) and Alicia Keys (Harlem) are New York City natives, and they teamed up on this track to represent their hometown. Accordingly the titular “Empire State” has been a popular nickname of New York since 19th century. The song deals with topics as diverse as recognising celebrities who live in the city to chronicling the tale of a female runaway who got caught in the snares therein.
This song was originally conceived by a pair of NYC writers named Janet Sewell and Angela Hunte who came up with the tune while visiting London in 2009 and suffering from homesickness. The song came to the attention of Jay-Z after the two writers submitted the tune (twice) to his label Roc Nation. Sewell and Hunte received both writing and production credit for the song, as did Al Shux. And the track’s other co-writers are as follows:
Robinson is an old school performer who is actually one of the pioneers of hip-hop. And the reason she is credited as a co-writer is because “Empire State of Mind” samples a track she wrote that came out in 1970 entitled “Love on a Two-Way Street”, by the Moments.
Keys has received numerous accolades in her career, including 15 competitive Grammy Awards, 17 and an award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame and National Music Publishers Association. She has sold over 50 million albums and 40 million singles worldwide making her one of the world’s best-selling music artists and was named by Billboard the top R&B artist of the 2000s decade.
Yeah I’m out that Brooklyn, now I’m down in Tribeca
Right next to DeNiro, but I’ll be hood forever
I’m the new Sinatra, and, since I made it here
I can make it anywhere, yeah, they love me everywhere
I used to cop in Harlem, all of my Dominicanos
Right there up on Broadway, pull me back to that McDonald’s
Took it to my stashbox, 560 State St
Catch me in the kitchen like a Simmons wippin’ pastry’s
Cruisin’ down 8th St, off white Lexus
Drivin’ so slow, but BK is from Texas
Me, I’m out that Bed-Stuy, home of that boy Biggie
Now I live on Billboard and I brought my boys with me
Say what up to Ty-Ty, still sippin’ Mai Tais
Sittin’ courtside, Knicks and Nets give me high five
Nigga I be Spike’d out, I could trip a referee (come on, come on, come on)
Tell by my attitude that I’m most definitely from
Songwriters: Alexander William Shuckburgh / Alicia J Augello-Cook / Shawn C Carter / Angela Hunte / Bert Keyes / Sylvia Robinson / Janet Sewell
Empire State Of Mind lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group