Empire State of Mind
Jay-Z with Alicia Keys
Writer(s): Angela Hunte, Alicia Keys, Alexander Shuckburgh, Burt Keyes, Janet "Jnay" Sewell-Ulepic, Shawn Carter, Sylvia Robinson (see lyrics here)
Released: October 20, 2009
First Charted: September 19, 2009
Peak: 15 US, 5 RR, 39 A40, 13 RB, 2 UK, 3 CN, 4 AU, 10 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): 5.51 US, 0.77 UK, 6.49 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.4 radio, 213.07 video, 767.29 streaming
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About the Song:
“Empire State of Mind” was written by Angela Hunte and Jane’t Sewell Ulepic as a tribute to their hometown of New York City. They wrote it while overseas in London and feeling homesick. They submitted the song to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label and it was initially rejected. However, EMI’s Jon Platt heard the track at a barbeque and sent it to Jay-Z again.
Jay-Z kept the singing part of the hook, but changed the verses. WK Initially Hunte was still going to sing the hook, but she suggested Alicia Keys. WK Because of the track’s piano loops based on a riff from the Moments’ “classic 1970 soul ballad ‘Love on a Two-Way Street,’” SS Jay-Z wanted Key’s piano and vocal talents. He called her and said, “I feel like I have this record that’s going to be the anthem of New York…and it couldn’t be the anthem of New York without you.” WK She went by the studio and listened to it and, as she said, “I really felt the energy of New York all through it…I said ‘I love it, so let’s do it.’” SF The song allowed Jay-Z and Alicia Keys “to shout the praises of the city in which both…had been raised.” SS
Complex magazine agreed with Jay-Z’s assessment, saying that the song “has replaced Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York’ as the city’s go-to anthem.” WK The New York Racing Association concurred when they replaced “New York, New York” with “Empire State of Mind” as the opening song at the 142nd running of the Belmont Stakes. WK The song also got attention during the New York Yankees’ World Series run and Jay-Z performed it at their victory parade. SF
The song was Jay-Z’s fourth time to reach the pinnacle of the Billboard Hot 100, but his first time as a lead artist. WK The song was a top ten hit in Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. WK The song won Grammys for Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Entertainment Weekly named it the best single of 2009. WK
Last updated 6/20/2023.