Remember “Empire State of Mind”? The song by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys has been honored as the ultimate homage to the city of New York ever since its release in 2009. It was Jay-Z’s first Billboard Hot 100 #1 hit. However, now this song has a competitor. Kanye West, Fivio Foreign, and Alicia Keys have united for their own run at respecting New York City with the new song “City of Gods.”
New York City is the hometown of both Fivio Foreign and Alicia Keys. However, the song might be part of the rumored ‘Donda 2’ album by Kanye West. “City of Gods” was released on February 11, 2022, ahead of the anticipated album release date of February 22.
The chorus by Alicia Keys interpolates another famous song about this city; “New York City” by The Chainsmokers from 2015. The New York born electro-pop duo are also listed as producers on “City of Gods.”
Listen to “City of Gods” by Kanye West, Fivio Foreign, & Alicia Keys
Kanye West “City of Gods” Lyrics Meaning and Song Review
In the first verse by Fivio Foreign, the rapper talks about his love for New York City — both the good and the bad. He reminds his fellow New York rapper Pop Smoke who was shot dead exactly two years ago in February 2020. Although, Pop Smoke was gunned down in Los Angeles, New York City is known and has been known for its gangs. Fivio grew in these streets and he gave back. And the City loves him for that.
In the second verse by Fivio, he reminds that a big city does not always mean an easy life.
Yeah, look, this is the city of money and violence
Everything you do is gon’ come with a challenge
These lines compliment the chorus by Alicia Keys that sings “New York City, please go easy on me tonight.”
A big city promises big opportunities, but it also attracts like-minded adventurers looking for the same loot. So, it naturally becomes a cut-throat battle to the top. The rules of the jungle takes over; the survival of the fittest — both physically and mentally.
Fivio also pays homage to three iconic New York emcees 2 Milly, Bobby Shmurda, and Pop Smoke, and the dance moves they popularized, Milly Rock, Shmoney Dance, and Woo Walk, respectively.
Fivio also establishes that he is the king of New York City as far as music and influence goes. He brags that the streets are with him and he has the ability to control who comes and goes from the music scene in New York!
In the third verse of the song, Kanye West brings out his own affiliations to the New York City. But he kicks off the song with a nod to his own track “Off the Grid” from ‘Donda’ album featuring Fivio Foreign.
Next, Ye jumps into his connections with Jay-Z — the duo released a collaboration album named ‘Watch The Throne’ in 2011. Ye tell us that he wasn’t just watching the throne, but he earned it and ruled it with Jay-Z, who is a native to the New York City.
It’s the city that come with the lights
I’m with the drillers that come with the night
The big city lights are often a signature feature of New York skyscrapers. These symbolize big opportunities and big dreams as sung in “Empire State of Mind” as well.
These streets will make you feel brand new (new)“Empire State of Mind” – Jay-Z Ft. Alicia Keys
Big lights will inspire you (come on) (okay)
‘Drillers’ is a slang for gang members, that Fivio also sang about in the first verse.
Ye continues on this theme saying that there is an entire class of people who could not even make it through four years of college due to various reasons. But almost all of them have done jail time trying to survive in these harsh streets.
Building on this theme, Ye also references his infamous debut studio album ‘The College Dropout’ from 2004.
Kanye West admits that he has no birth right to New York as the fellow collaborators on this song do. But he is most definitely hailed as native in pretty much any city he visits.
I feel like Sinatra in these streets, me and Drizzy, we at peace
The reference to Frank Sinatra is yet again a reference to “Empire State of Mind” where Jay-Z sings “I’m the new Sinatra.” Frank Sinatra also has a famous song titled “New York New Yokr.” Ye also seems to let everyone know that Drake and himself are on good terms despite having a rough relationship between them for years.
In the latter part of Kanye’s verse, he turns cold. He talks about the fake love celebrities are ‘blessed’ with due to their celebrity status.
They act like they love you, they don’t even like you
They throw a party, won’t even invite you
While this is directly relatable to the music industry, it is most likely a reference to the recent debacle of Kim Kardashian not inviting Kanye West to their daughter’s birthday party. Apparently, Kim Kardashain, who is now divorced from Ye, did not disclose the location of their daughter’s birthday party in January 2022. However, Ye did manage to make it to the event having received the location from Travis Scott.
Ye also compares himself to the late great Michael Jackson relating to how the industry turns on an artist when they see their slightest weakness. Michael Jackson is dubbed the King of Pop. However, towards the latter part of his career and life, he was dubbed ‘Wacko Jacko’ by the media due to his unconventional lifestyle. Ye, himself, is a big fan of MJ and expressed his great sorrow when the King passed away in June 2009.
Yet another great tribute to the City of New York. Which tribute song do you like the best? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Check out the complete lyrics on Genius.