Lies About New York Disseminated By “Empire State of Mind”


Dear Mr. Z,

Jay? Hova? Can I call you Hov? Whatever, just pay attention, Jazz. I heard that song of yours on the radio. Yes, I still listen to the radio. I don’t think it makes me old-fashioned. That’s not the point. The point is, I want you to stop singing your song, “Empire States Back.” Also—and this is important, H-to-the-Izzo—I want you to apologize to all the young people out there. Because you shouldn’t be getting their hopes up about New York City.

Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m saying. You go on about your flashy cars and fancy rapper friends and well-located seats to professional basketball games like that’s what makes the city great for everyone. You even mention your pop-star wife! I don’t think I need to tell you there aren’t a lot of Beyoncés to go around. You can trust me on that one. (She seems very nice, though. Say hello to her for me if you don’t mind.)

What was I talking about? Oh, yeah. Look, everyone in Manhattan is not a big-time hip-hop business money guy. Some of us live in apartments that can’t fit a full-length bed but we still pay too much rent to afford both cockroach and rat poison. It’s no picnic choosing which of those suckers to keep around.

Now you’re gonna say that you put a line in the song like “half of ‘y’all’ won’t make it.” But that’s not even close. Compared to you, it’s more like 99% of us y’alls won’t make it. If you count the homeless people, the immigrants who work for minimum wage or less, the dying industries, failed businesses, crushed dreams, and broken plans, almost nobody lives in the same New York you do.

Also, I know that line about Kobe, LeBron, and Dwyane Wade refers to how little money you pay for a kilo of cocaine. And it’s just not responsible to encourage kids to buy low-quality coke like that. Shame on you.

The Empire State can be a great place, Hizzo, but not if you’re the standard for success.

In closing, please give my address to Alicia Keys and tell her that this complaint does not apply to her part of the song, which is pretty and lovely, like she is.

A Guy with a Radio Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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