“Empire State of Mind” is one of those songs that instantly became an anthem. Alicia Keys’ incredible voice combined with Jay-Z’s verses meshed together perfectly and even though the tune is all about New York City, it resonated worldwide.
But it didn’t all come together as effortlessly as it sounds.
During an episode of VH1’s Storytellers that aired on Monday, November 12, Keys revealed that Hova wasn’t so pleased with her first attempt at the hook. She recounted the moment when Jay called her up.
“It’s good, it’s good,” he told her. “But I don’t know, I just thought you could hit it one more time!”
Alicia was taken aback by his critique, but determined to impress him.
“So I go in and I hit it and I hit it hard,” she explained to the crowd. “I come back with some, ‘Uh! Uh! Uh!’ A little New York thing, put my little swag on it, get it in really good. Send it back like, ‘Send!’ Bet you have nothing to say now!”
After she put a dash of flavor on it, Jay-Z was more than satisfied and the rest is history — the song went to #1 on four Billboard charts and their single went 3X multi-platinum.
-Sarah Carroll, 97.1 AMP Radio/Los Angeles