Empire State Of Mind by Jay-Z Lyrics Meaning – Unpacking the Big Apple’s Anthem


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Jay-Z's Empire State Of Mind at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning

Lyrics

Yeah

Yeah, I’m out that Brooklyn, now I’m down in Tribeca
Right next to De Niro, 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, hola, my Dominicanos (dímelo)
Right there up on Broadway, brought me back to that McDonald’s
Took it to my stashbox, 560 State Street
Catch me in the kitchen like a Simmons whippin’ pastry
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

In New York (ayy, ah-ha) (uh, yeah)
Concrete jungle (yeah) where dreams are made of
There’s nothin’ you can’t do (yeah) (okay)
Now you’re in New York (ah-ha, ah-ha, ah-ha) (uh, yeah)
These streets will make you feel brand new (new)
Big lights will inspire you (come on) (okay)
Let’s hear it for New York (you’re welcome, OG) (uh)
New York (yeah), New York (uh) (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 though
But I got a gang of niggas walkin’ with my clique though
Welcome to the melting pot, corners where we sellin’ rock
Afrika Bambataa shit, home of the hip-hop
Yellow cab, gypsy cab, dollar cab, holla back
For foreigners it ain’t fair, they act like they forgot how to act
Eight million stories, out there in the naked
City is a pity, half of y’all won’t make it
Me, I got a plug, Special Ed, “I Got It Made”
If Jeezy’s payin’ Lebron, I’m payin’ Dwyane Wade
Three dice Cee-lo, three-card Monte
Labor Day Parade, rest in peace Bob Marley
Statue of Liberty, long live the World Trade (come on, come on, come on)
Long live the king, yo, I’m from the Empire State that’s

In New York (ayy) (uh, yeah)
Concrete jungle (yeah) where dreams are made of
There’s nothin’ you can’t do (that boy good) (okay)
Now you’re in New York (uh, yeah)
(Welcome to the bright lights, baby)
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you (okay)
Let’s hear it for New York (uh)
New York (yeah), New York (uh)

Lights is blinding, girls need blinders
So they can step out of bounds quick, the sidelines is
Lined with casualties, who sip the life casually
Then gradually become worse, don’t bite the apple, Eve
Caught up in the in-crowd, now you’re in style
Into the winter gets cold, en vogue, with your skin out
City of sin, it’s a pity on a whim
Good girls gone bad, the city’s filled with them
Mommy took a bus trip, now she got her bust out
Everybody ride her, just like a bus route
“Hail Mary” to the city, you’re a virgin
And Jesus can’t save you, life starts when the church end
Came here for school, graduated to the high life
Ball players, rap stars, addicted to the limelight
MDMA got you feelin’ like a champion (come on, come on, come on)
The city never sleeps, better slip you an Ambien

In New York (ayy, oh) (uh, yeah)
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothin’ you can’t do (okay)
Now you’re in New York (uh, yeah)
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you (okay)
Let’s hear it for New York (uh)
New York (yeah), New York (uh)

One hand in the air for the big city (uh)
Street lights, big dreams, all lookin’ pretty (uh)
No place in the world that could compare (nah)
Put your lighters in the air everybody say
“Yeah, yeah” (come on, come on, come on)
“Yeah, yeah” (I’m from New York)

In New York (uh, yeah) (ohh)
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothin’ you can’t do (okay)
Now you’re in New York (uh, yeah)
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you (okay)
Let’s hear it for New York (uh)
New York (yeah), New York (uh)

Full Lyrics

Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z, featuring Alicia Keys, is more than just an anthem; it is a telescopic lens into the heart of New York City, capturing the hopes and hustle that pulse through its streets. The impact of this song is as profound and layered as the city it represents, making it one of the defining tracks of the 21st century.

The colliding beats and rhymes juxtapose with Alicia Keys’s soulful chorus, weaving together a narrative of a city where survival and success intermingle beneath the neon lights. Let’s dive deep into the intricate meanings and messages encapsulated within the lyrics that have etched themselves onto the soul of every New Yorker.

The Aspirational Spirit of a Concrete Jungle

The repetitive hook that New York is a ‘concrete jungle where dreams are made of’ serves more than just a catchy chorus – it acknowledges the city’s harsh reality while promising limitless possibility. This paradoxical combination mirrors the two sides of the American Dream: the no-guarantees battleground and the boundless opportunities ahead.

By personifying the city as a place that both challenges and champions its inhabitants, Jay-Z captures the essence of New York’s aspirational spirit, where everybody gets a shot at making it big, regardless of their starting point.

From the Boroughs to Billboard: Jay-Z’s Rags-to-Riches Tale

Throughout the verses, Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, often draws from his personal journey—from the Marcy Houses in Brooklyn to the global stage. He parallels his metamorphosis with landmarks and cultural references that have shaped his experiences, both gritty and grandiose, distilling his ‘Empire State of Mind.’

The transition ‘from the Boroughs to Billboard’ symbolizes not only his geographical change but also an evolution of identity. By connecting his success to the city’s energy, Jay-Z emphasizes the transformative impact New York has on those who dare to dream.

The Hidden Meaning Behind Lights and Legacy

While ‘Empire State of Mind’ is draped in the glamour of bright lights and big dreams, there is an underlying narrative about legacy and time’s passage. References to the fallen World Trade Center and the memory of rap icon Notorious B.I.G. shine a light on the city’s ability to endure and rebuild.

Furthermore, the song is laced with nostalgia, capturing a period when New York was a crucible for cultural innovation, especially in the hip-hop scene. Jay-Z acknowledges the roots of his empire, crediting the city’s past with shaping his present and future.

Navigating Fame and Fortune: Memorable Lines that Resonate

In a powerful lyrical move, Jay-Z claims, ‘I made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can.’ It’s a bold statement about personal brand and influence that goes beyond the mere acquisition of wealth, emphasizing the capacity for individual style to shape cultural trends.

When he says, ‘These streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you,’ it’s a declaration of the city’s reinvigorating effect, a place where you can reinvent yourself and escape the past’s shadows. It’s this perception of New York as a catalyst for change that resonates with listeners worldwide.

Empire State of Mind’s Enduring Echoes in Pop Culture

Empire State of Mind’s intergenerational appeal can be attributed to its universality and its ability to evoke a visceral sense of place. The track has transcended its geographic specificity, becoming an international emblem of ambition and resilience.

It’s not only an anthem for New York City but one for anyone who has ever yearned for greatness. The song garners new meanings with each listen, and its magnetic draw is testament to the power of a perfectly captured moment in music.

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