Thursday, September 15, 2011

New York, New York

(You may wanna Google lyrics or open up Youtube to read along with this one)

There's a few reasons why we say "New York" twice when we're referring to our city... The most obvious of course being the fact that New York is the name of a city in a state of the same name, but also because within this large city there is two different worlds, two different New Yorks. Are you drawn in yet? Have a seat let me explain myself.

For as long as I could remember, or at least since I learned there was a world outside of my beloved city, I've been very well aware that there have been two worlds within my city. In recent years there have been several songs dedicated to the Big Apple. Of course we know Mr. Frank Sinatra's classic and Ja-Rule, Fat Joe and Jadakiss got together to make a dope track dedicated to the big city as well. But two songs of them all have stood out to me and have all but put a literal and physical face to this fact. Both with Jay-Z. One alongside Cam'Ron and the other featuring Alicia Keys.

"Welcome to New York City"
Artist: Cam'Ron ft. Jay-Z & Juelz Santana
Album: Come Home with Me
Year of release: 2002

This one is talking about the city outside of the city (Downtown Manhattan. It relates more to Harlem and the outer boroughs) This song discusses the drug game, the loitering in project building hallways. Carrying guns, wars going on outside one's window.
Jay-Z says certain lines such as "Rucker Game Attender" "Niggas will drive by in the day, murder you in the dark" "Wet niggas up like the Johnny pump is open, Nigga I play hard!"

Then there's some of Cam'Ron's lines: "There's a war going on outside no man is safe from/it don't matter if you 3ft. or 8'1," "Carry 8 guns/2 in the trunk/2 on the waist/2 on the ankles/2 to just spank you" "It's La Cosa Nostra..." "...They'll toast your go-for, bread loaf your chauffeur"
"Rich black thugs"

You see, its the lifestyle inspired by famous mafia movies. The ambition of becoming rich fast so they deal drugs. It's a news report of war going on in the very streets that these reporters live in. It's a story of a day spent outdoors, from a basketball game at Rucker Park (Very Famous park in Harlem where the greatest street ballers and even some entertainers and professional athletes come to play basketball) to giving you a warning of what may happen. The Johnny Pump (fire hydrant) being open, which is a very strong visual of NYC in the summer. But it's also a story of brief success "Mink on a motorcycle, trinkets they're so delightful, blinging there's so much ice, (Bling!)" This is the New York that the tourist never sees. The New York that lies beneath the surface of the clean Empire State that you see on post cards.

"Empire State of Mind"
Artist: Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys
Album: Blueprint 3
Year of Release: 2009

This song is discussing the glamourous New York (Manhattan) Madison Square Gardens, no longer at the Rucker. Dreams coming true, Big Lights, High Fashion, Yellow cabs etc.

Jay-Z is quoted saying: "Now I'm down in Tribeca, right Next to DeNiro" "Sitting court side, Knicks and Nets give me Hi-5" "I made a Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee Can" "Statue of Liberty, Long live the World Trade" "I'm from the Empire State that's..." "Caught up in "the "In" Crowd, now you in style

Alicia's Hook: "In 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, let's hear it for New York"

"One hand in the air for the big city, srteet lights, big dreams all lookin pretty, no place in the world that can compare, put your lighters in the air everybody say yeaaaahhhhh"

So triumphant isn't it? But do you see the vast difference between the two. One tells you that the streets of the city will make you feel brand new, the other suggests that if you're wearing anything brand new you may be at risk of getting shot over it in a mugging. "Remember the war going on outside?" That's what that's about. 

So if you haven't figured it out, there's the "I can be whoever I want to be, I too can have a beautiful Tribeca apartment next door to my favorite celebrity" New York and then there's the "You may wanna be careful walking down the street because there is a war going on outside and this guy has a few guns on him, ready to test you all in the name of his respect" New York.

There's the "I have to hustle to get what I want, because no one is gonna hand it to me" New York and there's the "I'm famous, so professional athletes give me their hand in respect" New York.

So what are Eno thoughts on this subject? We'll see. Part II coming soon! I may even have a treat for you. But for now I think I wanna end this like an episode of Sopranos and.......

Stay Up, And Stay Tuned!

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