“Empire State of Mind” is a song by American rapper Jay-Z, featuring vocals and a chorus from American singer Alicia Keys. It was released as the third single from Jay-Z’s 11th studio album, The Blueprint 3 (2009), by his Roc Nation label in October 2009. The song was written as a tribute to both artists’ hometown, New York City, and features a music sample of “Love on a Two-Way Street” (1970), written by Sylvia Robinson and Bert Keyes and performed by The Moments. “Empire State of Mind” was originally written by Brooklyn natives Angela Hunte and Jane’t “Jnay” Sewell-Ulepic who were feeling homesick while on an overseas trip in February 2009. The following month they submitted the song to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, whose reviews were a discouragement. Following an incident that Hunte and Sewell-Ulepic describe as an omen, they took the suggestion of an associate of EMI Music Publishing and resubmitted it to Jay-Z, who kept the sung “New York” hook, changed the verses, and recorded it as a single.
The single was supposed to feature Hunte on the song’s hook, but when Hunte and Sewell-Ulepic were asked if they thought anyone else would be more appropriate for the chorus, Hunte suggested Keys. Mary J. Blige was also considered for the part, but Keys was chosen after Jay-Z heard the song’s piano loop. The song was viewed as being an “orchestral rap ballad” and has pop-rap musical styles. It contains references to various locations in New York and its famous residents, while describing the city’s essence.