Tag: Alicia Keys

Song Lyric Sunday – Empire State of Mind – Contrasts

The theme for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday is Contrasts. Our host, Jim Adams has prompted us to find songs with ‘Contrast’. A good example of melodic contrast is Rap, to tell the story, combined with mainstream music which you can sing a long with. I have chosen a song that I like very much, “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z featuring my favorite artist Alicia Keys. I hope you enjoy the contrast.

  • This Blueprint 3 track features Jay-Z’s fellow New Yorker, Alicia Keys. On The Howard Stern Show November 15, 2010, Jay explained that he had Mary J. Blige in mind for the female vocals, but when he heard the piano stabs in the song, he decided to go with Keys.
  • On this track the Roc Nation CEO details his rise from the Marcy Projects to his SoHo Penthouse, comparing himself along the way to other famous New Yorkers such as Robert De Niro and Frank Sinatra (The lyrics, “Since I made it here, I can make it anywhere,” reference the crooner’s Big Apple classic “New York, New York“). New York is the “Empire State.”
  • The title is similar to Nas’ 1994 track, “N.Y. State of Mind” and Billy Joel’s 1976 song, “New York State of Mind.”
  • This song is very anthemic, meaning it gets the crowd singing along to the chorus. It even works on non-New Yorkers. “It’s all about New York and people might not gravitate to being from New York because that’s not where everyone’s from,” Keys told NPR. “But it’s not about New York, it’s about hope. It’s about the chance that we’ll leave, and that is what made it relatable.”
  • This samples “Love on a Two Way Street” by American ’60s soul group The Moments.
  • Keys explained to MTV News about how the collaboration came about: “I’ve admired Jay-Z for a long time. Reasonable Doubt is my all-time favorite album, period, and he’s been on the scene for long time. I always figured that we would do some type of collaboration, and finally, it came together with this. He reached out to me said, ‘I have this big New York record. I feel its right for us to do it together. It has this big Frank Sinatra, take-it-there feeling. I feel like you could really do something with it.’

    I went by [the studio], took a listen to it. I really felt the energy of New York all through it. It felt classic, it felt so good; the piano obviously was in there. I said, ‘I love it, so let’s do it.’ We communicated a lot during the process. I think we both are really happy with how it came out.”
  • Keys told MTV News that she wanted to make sure she got the hook right. “I did try it a couple of times, but it was more about capturing the kind of grand feeling of it,” she explained. “With the way I sang it the first time, I was actually kind of sick, and I knew that he needed the record, so I was like, ‘Let me get to it.’ I came back and revisited it so that it could be what it is now,” she added. “So it actually took a couple of times, but every time, the energy was just so high.”
  • The Hype Williams-directed video was filmed on October 1, 2009, in Harlem and around Ground Zero of New York City. The images of the city were intercut with shots of Jay-Z and Keys performing in Times Square. Keys told MTV News: “It is a masterpiece video. The way it’s put together, it is so New York. You totally get it and understand it. It’s artistic. It’s hard. It’s beautiful. It’s like everything. And definitely getting to be in the middle of Times Square on my piano [with] Jay, representing our home city is a triumph. It was unbelievable.”
  • Jay-Z performed the song with his backup singer Bridget Kelly at the Yankees’ victory celebration in New York on November 6, 2009. Kelly has regularly filled in for Keys on performances of the song, including one at the MTV Europe Music Awards 2009.
  • This was the first Jay-Z song to top the Billboard Hot 100 which featured on one of his albums. The New York rapper was a featured artist on all his previous chart-toppers, which include, “Hearbreaker” with Mariah Carey, “Crazy In Love” with Beyoncé and “Umbrella” with Rihanna. Sales for this unofficial hometown anthem were aided by the New York Yankees’ unprecedented performances at the World Series and their victory parade during which Jay-Z performed the song.
  • This song was originally written by Brooklyn-native singer/songwriter/producer Angela Hunte and her writing partner Jane’t “Jnay” Sewell-Ulepic. Hunte, who penned and produced the track about her beloved hometown, actually grew up at “560 State Street,” the street address Jay-Z mentions on the tune. Among the other songs she has written are “Do Somethin’,” which was the second single from Britney Spears’ Greatest Hits: My Prerogative compilation, and “Show Stopper” for Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Danity Kane group, which reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

    Hunte told Billboard magazine: “I come from the same building where he [Jay-Z] lived, and we knew each other from Brooklyn, but we never worked together. Not in a million years did I think I’d make this hit for him. I still have no words even for the World Series performance. You get your hopes up with artists but then things happen and the record doesn’t make it for whatever reason. But Jay loved the song, it made the album and it sounds crazy.”

Courtesy of Songfacts

Lyrics

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
Right there up on Broadway, pull me back to that McDonald's
Took it to my stash spot, 560 State St
Catch me in the kitchen like the Simmons' whipping 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 TyTy, still sippin' Mai Tai's
Sittin' courtside, Knicks & Nets give me high five
Nigga, I be spiked out, I could trip a referee
Tell by my attitude that I'm most definitely from

[Alicia Keys:]
In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There's nothin' you can't do
Now you're in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Let's hear it for New York, New York
New York

You're welcome OG. I made you hot, nigga

[Jay-Z:]
Catch me at the X with OG at a Yankee game
Shit, I made the Yankee hat more famous then 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 add
8 million stories, out there in the naked
City it's 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
Long live the King yo, I'm from the Empire State that's

[Alicia Keys:]
In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There's nothin' you can't do
Now you're in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Let's hear it for New York, New York
New York

That boy good. Welcome to the bright light, baby

[Jay-Z:]
Lights is blinding, girls need blinders
Or they could step out of bounds quick, the sidelines is
Lined with casualties, who sip to life casually
Then gradually become worse, don't bite the apple, Eve
Caught up in the in-crowd, now you're in style
And it the winter gets cold, in 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
The city never sleeps, better slip you an Ambien

[Alicia Keys:]
In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There's nothin' you can't do
Now you're in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big 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 lookin' pretty
No place in the world that could compare
Put your lighters in the air
Everybody say "yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah" (c'mon, c'mon)
I'm from

[Alicia Keys:]
In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There's nothin' you can't do
Now you're in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Let's hear it for New York, New York
New York


Song Lyric Sunday – Girl on Fire

Great prompts for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, hosted by Jim Adams.  Cool, Freeze, Heat and Melt. There will be a lot of interesting songs chosen today. My pick is Girl on Fire from the fantastic and very talented Alicia Keys.

Girl on Fire” is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Alicia Keys for her fifth studio album of the same name. Keys co-wrote and co-produced the R&B ballad with Jeff Bhasker and Salaam Remi. The song contains an interpolation of the drums from the 1980 song “The Big Beat” by American rock guitarist Billy Squier, who received a writing credit on “Girl on Fire”. Released on September 4, 2012, as the lead single from the album of the same name, “Girl on Fire” is Keys’ first release under RCA Records following the closure of J Records, after a reorganization at Sony Music Entertainment.

“Girl on Fire” was inspired by Keys’ giving birth to her son Egypt and marriage to husband Swizz Beatz. Keys recorded a three-track suite for the song, consisting of the main version in addition to two remixes. The first remix, titled “Inferno”, adds two new verses from American hip hop artist Nicki Minaj, whilst the second mix titled “Bluelight” strips back the drums and piano leaving a sparse bass-led production and re-recorded “smokey” vocals. “Girl on Fire” opened to extremely positive reviews from critics, with many praising Keys’ vocals and the song’s production. Keys performed “Girl on Fire” for the first time at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards on September 6, 2012, where she was joined by Minaj and American gymnastics gold-medalist Gabby Douglas. The song has sold over 4 million paid downloads in the United States.

The following January Alicia Keys changed the word slightly and performed the song as “Obama is on Fire” and played it at his second inauguration.

Lyrics

She's just a girl, and she's on fire
Hotter than a fantasy, longer like a highway
She's living in a world, and it's on fire
Feeling the catastrophe, but she knows she can fly away
Oh, she got both feet on the ground
And she's burning it down
Oh, she got her head in the clouds
And she's not backing down

This girl is on fire
This girl is on fire
She's walking on fire
This girl is on fire

Looks like a girl, but she's a flame
So bright, she can burn your eyes
Better look the other way
You can try but you'll never forget her name
She's on top of the world
Hottest of the hottest girls say
Oh, we got our feet on the ground
And we're burning it down
Oh, got our head in the clouds
And we're not coming down

This girl is on fire
This girl is on fire
She's walking on fire
This girl is on fire

Everybody stands, as she goes by
Cause they can see the flame that's in her eyes
Watch her when she's lighting up the night
Nobody knows that she's a lonely girl
And it's a lonely world
But she gon' let it burn, baby, burn, baby

This girl is on fire
This girl is on fire
She's walking on fire
This girl is on fire
Oh, oh, oh,
She's just a girl, and she's on fireWriter/s: Jeff Bhasker, Alicia Augello-Cook, Salaam Remi, Billy Squire, Nicki Minaj
Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Spirit Music Group
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Song Lyric Sunday – New

Today’s Song Lyric Sunday prompt from Helen Vahdati is “New”. I have chosen something from one of my favorite present day artists, Alicia Keys. it is her anthem, New York. I hope you enjoy it.

Lyrics - New York

Ooh, New York
Ooh, New York
 
Grew up in a town
That is famous as a place of movie scenes
Noise is always loud
There are sirens all around
And the streets are mean
If I can make it here
I could make it anywhere
That's what they say
Seeing my face in lights
Or my name in marquees found down on
Broadway
 
Even if ain't all it seems
I got a pocket full of dreams
 
Baby, I'm from 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
Big lights will inspire you
Hear it for New York!
(New York, New York, New York)
 
On the avenue
There ain't never a curfew, ladies work so hard
Such a melting pot
On the corner selling rock
Preachers pray to God
Hail a gipsy cab
Takes me down from Harlem to the Brooklyn Bridge
Someone sleeps tonight
With a hunger for more then an empty fridge
 
I'm going to make it by any means
I got a pocket full of dreams
 
Baby I'm from 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
Big lights will inspire you
Hear it for New York!
(New York, New York, New York)
 
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
Yeah, yeah, yeah!
Yeah, yeah, yeah!
 
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
Big lights will inspire you
Hear it for New York!
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