“City of Gods” by Fivio Foreign, Kanye West & Alicia Keys
This song is obviously meant to serve as an ode to New York City or the “City of Gods”, as termed by Fivio and Yeezus. Both Alicia Keys and Fivio Foreign are native to NYC. Therein there are five boroughs, amongst them being Brooklyn. And it can be said that this has a special emphasis on said locality, where Fivio, who holds down two verses, is from and which is also explicitly namedropped by Kanye West.
As presented by the former, the “City of Gods” is a place where gangs roam. Or put differently, one has the strong and wise survive in the ‘hood. So even though the likes of Fivio and his squad are “not violent”, if someone dumbs out, they may find themselves being featured on the local news – and not in a good way. Furthermore, as far as gangs go, he gives a special shoutout to an outfit known as the Woo.
Meanwhile, Kanye for the most part casts away his religious leanings for a minute to rather drop a verse biggin’ up BK. In doing so, he puts an additional focus on his wealth, success and the idea of Yeezus rolling with “the drillers”, i.e. the street n*ggas from Brooklyn.
Of course West himself is from Chicago, so therein he mentions the Windy City a couple of times also. In fact one interesting bar has him bragging about purchasing the Chicago Bulls in the future. Of course said Bulls are the professional basketball team upon which Michael Jordan, who he also mentions, starred back in the late 20th century.
Well a little known fact is that MJ was actually born in Brooklyn, which may be one of the reasons Kanye made this lyrical connection.
So conclusively his passage serves the purpose of praising Brooklyn, the Big Apple and of course himself, who is ‘treated like Jesus walking’ when he comes to the city.
Alicia takes over in the Chorus of “City of Gods”
Then Alicia Keys is tasked with maintaining the chorus. She relays her affection for NYC in sort of a somewhat confusing romantic context that doesn’t really have anything to do with the rest of what is being put forth.
It reads as if she is looking to the city for solace in the midst of being cheated on by her lover. So it’s like she and the Big Apple have a personal relationship, if you will. But that said, we already know Keys has love for her city considering that she was the singing voice behind Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind“, which many consider to be one of the greatest odes to NYC.
Concurrent with the release of this track, Fivio Foreign, a 31 year old Brooklynite, is considered one of the top up-and-coming rappers in the game. For instance, the more famous Nicki Minaj recently namedropped him on the track “Do We Have a Problem?“.
Also, Yeezus featured Fivio on his 2021 track “Off The Grid” from his Donda album. However, this song marks the first time Foreign has worked with Alicia Keys, herself being one of the most respected musicians in the industry. Alicia has worked with West in the past though, yet, it would seem, never as an official feature or co-headliner of one another.
“City of Gods’
This track is a part of multiple albums. The first is a Kanye West joint entitled “Donda 2”. The second is Fivio Foreign’s maiden album titled “B.I.B.L.E.”. And to note, it has been reported that Yeezus is actually the executive producer of “B.I.B.L.E.”.
One of the labels behind this track is RichFish Records, a company founded by Mase, another NYC hip-hop artist whose notoriety predates both Alicia and Kanye. Besides that, “City of Gods” was also supported by Columbia Records.
There is an extensive composition team behind this piece. Besides for Kanye, the other co-producers/co-writers are:
- Tweek Tune
- Lil Mav
- Dem Jointz
- Ojivolta (Raul Cubina & Mark Williams)
The musical duo Chainsmokers are also listed as a producer of “City of Gods” with one of its members, Andrew Taggart, receiving songwriting credit. The other writers of this piece are Fivio, Alicia, Delacey, Crisitan Tejada and Mike Dean.
Concerning the contribution of The Chainsmokers, this song actually samples a track they dropped in 2015 entitled “New York City”.
Fivio appears to be affiliated with a Brooklyn-based street gang known as the Woo (whom he namedrops in the second verse). Recently a prominent member of that crew, 22 year old Tdott Woo, was murdered in the ‘hood. He was an associate of Fivio’s, and accordingly the rapper dedicated “City of Gods” to his memory.
This track also features additional vocals from Playboi Carti, a famous rapper in his own right from Georgia.