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"Empire State of Mind" is a single by American hip hop rapper Jay-Z, released as the third single from his studio album The Blueprint 3 (2009) on his Roc Nation label. It features guest vocals from R&B and soul singer-songwriter Alicia Keys. The song is an anthemic ode to Jay-Z's and Keys's native New York Citymarker, featuring sampling of "Love on a Two-Way Street" by The Moments. It also contains elements of electropop and orchestra pop. Jay-Z and Keys performed the song at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, as well as the American Music Awards of 2009. It is also the plate music for New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.

After the song was released, it debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 50, with more than 40,000 downloads. Leaping from 23 to 1 on the Hot Digital Songs the following week, it rocketed to number 5 on the Hot 100 in its second week on the chart. With that big jump, the song became Jay Z's sixteenth top 10 hit and Keys' ninth top 10 hit. "Empire State of Mind" reached number 2 on the UK Singles Chart on October 4, 2009. The song also reached number 2 in the Irish Singles Chart on September 25, 2009 with no official release. In the UK, it received rotation on BBC Radio 1 and The Hit Music Network Playlists.

On November 18, 2009, it was announced that the song had hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Jay-Z's first #1 on that chart as a lead artist (and fourth overall).

Background

"Empire State of Mind" is an anthemic hip hop song that features sampling from "Love on a Two-Way Street" by The Moments with influences of electropop and orchestra pop. It has been said that fellow New York MC Nas (who himself has a song called "N.Y. State of Mind") was supposed to be featured on the song but declined because of a busy touring schedule, an on going divorce case with his ex-wife Kelis, and his ongoing work with Damian Marley on their collaboration album titled Distant Relatives. The title is a reference to New York's eponym "The Empire State". The song is an anthem to Jay-Z's hometown, New York Citymarker. The song has peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, along with going to #1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Rap Songs charts. The song is currently on the BBC Radio 1 Playlist. Jay-Z stated in an interview that after hearing the piano loops, he immediately thought of Alicia and wanted her to be featured.

Release

The song has already received airplay from numerous radio stations and has gained a huge number of downloads, specifically after the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. The song was released as the third single from the album to Rhythmic Airplay on October 19, 2009, the same day as Alicia Keys's single "Doesn't Mean Anything".

Critical reception

Allmusic stated "The king of the crossovers here is 'Empire State of Mind,' a New York flag-waver with plenty of landmark name-dropping that turns into a great anthem with help on the chorus from Alicia Keys. Los Angeles Times writer Greg Kot commended Jay-Z for his ability to perform with cameos, and called the song "Empire State of Mind" "the sound of Jay-Z cruising for pop hits". Newsday s Glenn Gamboa said that Jay-Z declares "'I'm the new Sinatra' - and when he pushes for change" on the song. NME described Alicia Keys's cameo as "lusty bellowing". Pitchfork Media stated "the piledriver hooks of 'Run This Town' and 'Empire State of Mind' are content to annoy their way to ubiquity". PopMatters called the song "yet another chance for Jay to show love for his city, but it remains interesting thanks to a fantastic Al Shux beat and celebratory hook from Alicia Keys . Above all, it’s a chance for the Marcy emcee to show off shades of a new flow while not losing you for a second". Rolling Stone s Jody Rosen called it a "pallid New York shout-out".

Critics commended Alicia Keys for her chorus line.
Steve Jones of USA Today perceived a maturity by Jay-Z in the song, and wrote that "The upper-crust landmarks he now references are a far cry from the grimy Marcy Projects sights that he once detailed, something that perhaps is to be expected from the self-described 'new Sinatra.'" Alluding to the classic "Theme from New York, New York" anthem, Hip Hop Is Read similarly commented: "Frank Sinatra, move ova, make room for Hova. This is by far the best offering on The Blueprint 3". The Daily Telegraph described the song's sound as "anthemic club pop" and called Keys's chorus line "singalong". About.com called "Empire State of Mind" the album's apex, while commending Alicia Keys for her "excellent display of some unusually strong vocals". Slant Magazine s William McBee described it as a "glittering paean to the Big Apple with Alicia Keys soaring skyscraper-level on the hook and Jay putting on for his city". Smoking Section called "Empire State of Mind" an "antithesis to Nas’ 'NY State Of Mind,'as he presents the city that never sleeps as the ultimate proving ground for those who can escape it’s trappings". The Times called it an "orchestral rap ballad"., and The Guardian s Alexis Petridis described its chorus as "incredible, breezy pop".

Performances

The song was first performed at Jay-Z's "Answer the Call" benefit concert in Madison Square Gardenmarker on September 11, 2009, where it was the opening song. The song was then performed live at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards on September 13, 2009, where it closed the awards. Also, Jay-Z performed the song on September 18, 2009 during a live performance on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. Because of scheduling conflicts, Roc Nation singer Bridget Kelly performed in Alicia Keys' place (with an exception to the MTV Video Music Awards).

The song became an anthem for the New York Yankees during their championship run in 2009. Yankee shortstop and captain, Derek Jeter, used the song as his entrance music before every at-bat. It was performed live by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys in Yankee Stadiummarker before Game 2 of the 2009 World Series. Jay-Z also performed the song with Bridget Kelly at the Yankees' World Series victory ceremonies at New York City Hallmarker on November 6, 2009.

The song is used by World Wrestling Entertainment in video packages highlighting their Madison Square Garden appearances. Jay-Z and Bridget Kelly also sang "Empire State of Mind" at the MTV EMA in Berlin, Germanymarker in November 2009. The song was also performed by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys at the American Music Awards on November 22, 2009. While accepting an American Music Award regarding the song, Jay-Z finished off his thank you speech with the phrase "Men lie, Women lie, Numbers don't" and then laughed, which many believed to be a shot at fellow rap artist 50 cent.

On November 29, 2009 Keys performed her lines of the song in a medley alongside "Doesn't Mean Anything" and "No One" on the UK TV show The X Factor.

Empire State of Mind, Pt. II

Alicia Keys and Jay-Z recorded the sequel of the song called, "Empire State of Mind, Pt. II (Broken Down)", which is included on Keys' upcoming album, The Element of Freedom. Contrary to previous reports, the sequel doesn't feature Jay-Z.

Music video

The music video was filmed on October 1, 2009, in Harlemmarker, Times Square, and around Ground Zeromarker of New York Citymarker, and shows Yankee Stadiummarker and Ebbets Fieldmarker. The video was directed by Hype Williams. It premiered on Jay-Z's official YouTube channel on October 30, 2009.

Track listing

UK/EU digital single


Chart history

On the UK Singles Chart, Empire State of mind entered at #15 on 20th September, 2009. In the next week, it climbed to #3, and then one further place to #2, held off top spot by Taio Cruz with "Break Your Heart". The song also peaked at #2 on the UK R&B Chart based on downloads alone, no promotion and at that time, no music video. To date it has spent ten weeks inside the UK top 20. This is Jay-Z's first single to hit #1 on the Hot 100; overall, it is the fourth "Hot 100" number one hit for both artists. The song has remained at number one the following week, the week of Dec. 5, 2009.
Chart (2009) Peak

Position
Australian Singles Chart 7
Austrian Singles Chart 20
Belgian Singles Chart (Flanders) 17
Canadian Hot 100 8
Danish Singles Chart 8
Dutch Top 40 7
Eurochart Hot 100 8
Finnish Singles Chart 11
German Singles Chart 13
Irish Singles Chart 2
Italian Singles Chart 13
New Zealand Singles Chart 9
Norwegian Singles Chart 6
Swedish Singles Chart 11
Swiss Singles Chart 11
UK Singles Chart 2
UK R&B Singles Chart 2
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 1
U.S. Billboard Rap Songs 1


Personnel

Credits adapted from The Blueprint 3 liner notes.



References


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