Saturday, January 23, 2010

Territorializing the "Empire State of Mind"




Image:: "J/Z Broad Street" from WSCYA.org, defaced in Gimp 2.6.4 on Macbook

Over the past few months, it was hard to miss the anthemic crossover blockbuster, "Empire State of Mind," which is a great song that evokes both place and spirit.  I saw the video for the song, which was shot in October of 2009, several times on CJNT-Montréal {I often keep it on when I'm working}, which features a montage full of black and white imagery of NYC that complements the song. I saw Alicia Keys on the Haiti Telethon sounding a bit over-the-top, which I thought was too bad, given how great she was on "Empire." It was interesting to read this week in VV how Mary J. Blige almost was tapped for the chorus::
"Shawn Carter's most important decision was calling Alicia Keys next. Her brassy, soaring chorus is the song's heartbeat—without it, it's hard to imagine "Empire State" as more than a nice local hit. And it almost was. Jay-Z, now 40 years old, admitted to me that he was 'two seconds away' from calling Mary J. Blige, his reliable longtime collaborator, to supply the chorus, a move that would have been safe and true to his heritage. But something about the piano sound and melody (and, maybe, the commerciality) struck him, and so it was."
On ThickCulture, I'll be blogging about the mythological aspects of the song, which has some dark lyrics.

While this has been around for a while, here's a Google map {click on it to go to Google Maps in a new window} that references locations referred to in the song.  The lyrics and video are below, as well.



yeah
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 (Hey yo)
Right there off of Broadway
Brought me back to that McDonalds
Took it to my stash spot
560 State Street
Catch me in the kitchen like Simmons whipping Pastry
Cruising down 8th street
Off-white Lexus
Driving so slow
(but BK, it's from Texas!!)
Me I'm out that BedStuy
Home of that boy Biggie
now I live on Billboard
and I brought my boys with me
Say what up to Ta-ta
Still sipping Mai Tais
Sitting courtside
Knicks and Nets give me high-5
Nigga, I be Spiked out
I could trip a referee
...tell by my attitude that I'm MOST DEFINITELY FROM...

[Alicia Keys]
New York!!!!
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of,
There's nothing you can’t do,
Now you're in New York!!!
These streets will make you feel brand new,
the lights will inspire you,
Let's hear it for New York, New York, New York


[Jay-Z]
I made you hot nigga,
Catch me at the X with OG at a Yankee game,
shit I made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can,
you should know I bleed Blue, but I ain't a crip tho,
but I got a gang of niggas walking with my clique though,
welcome to the melting pot,
corners where we selling rocks,
Afrika bambaataa shit,
home of the hip hop,
yellow cab, gypsy cab, dollar cab, holla back,
for foreigners it ain't fitted act like they forgot how to act,
8 million stories out there and they're naked,
city it's a pity half of y’all won’t make it,
me I gotta plug a special and I got it made,
If Jeezy's payin LeBron, I’m paying Dwayne Wade,
3 dice cee-lo
3 card marley,
Labor Day parade, rest in peace Bob Marley,
Statue of Liberty, long live the World Trade,
long live the king yo,
I’m from the Empire State thats…

[Alicia Keys]
In New York!!!!
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of,
There's nothing you can’t do,
Now you're in New York!!!
These streets will make you feel brand new,
the lights will inspire you,
Let's hear it for New York, New York, New York

Welcome to the bright light..

[Jay-Z]
Lights is blinding,
girls need blinders
so they can step out of bounds quick,
the side lines is blind with casualties,
who sip the light casually, then gradually become worse,
don’t bite the apple Eve,
caught up in the in crowd,
now you're in-style,
and in the winter gets cold en vogue with your skin out,
the city of sin is a pity on a whim.
good girls gone bad, the city's filled with them,
Mommy took a bus trip and now she got her bust out,
everybody ride her, just like a bus route,
Hail Mary to the city your a Virgin,
and Jesus can’t save you life starts when the church ends,
came here for school, graduated to the high life,
ball players, rap stars, addicted to the limelight,
MDMA got you feeling like a champion,
the city never sleeps better slip you a Ambien

[Alicia Keys]
New York!!!!
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of,
There's nothing you can’t do,
Now you're in New York!!!
These streets will make you feel brand new,
the lights will inspire you,
Let's hear it for New York, New York, New York

[Alicia Keys]
One hand in the air for the big city,
Street lights, big dreams all looking pretty,
no place in the World that can compare,
Put your lighters in the air, everybody say yeaaahh
come on, come,
yeah,

[Alicia Keys]
New York!!!!
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of,
There's nothing you can’t do,
Now you're in New York!!!
These streets will make you feel brand new,
the lights will inspire you,
Let's hear it for New York, New York, New York


Video::



Twitterversion:: Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind" was almost w/ Mary J. Blige. Plus, Google Map mashup with song references from last fall. @Prof_K



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