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list Apr 1 2016 Written by

Top 10 Hip Hop Songs With New York In Their Title

C3AJNT Graffiti of NYC in New York City.

C3AJNT Graffiti of NYC in New York City.

New York just may be the most sung-about city in the world, ever. In Hip Hop alone there are hundreds of songs dealing with The Big Apple and life in its streets. For your enjoyment, we have selected ten dope tracks that specifically have the name New York in the song title.

Missing any? Hit us up in the comments!

10. Rakim - New York (Ya Out There) (1997)

“And the Garden of Eden against the sea that we got / To make sure the core of the Big Apple don’t rot / Where seeings believing we be achieving a lot / Where disc jocks created Hip Hop, check it out…”

This track has Rakim representing New York both bad and good over a DJ Premier beat. One of the stand-out tracks of Rakim’s solo debut The 18th Letter.

9. LL Cool J - New York, New York (2008)

“Let me tell you what’s up with all these New York cats / They got too rich and lost they grip on rap / They let the country boys take over the soundtrack / And blow the Superman kid straight off they back…”

LL Cool J has always polarized opinions, catching more hate than he ever deserved. In a 30-year career like LL’s, there are bound to be some misses, but LL Cool J is Hip Hop’s elite and a true Hip Hop icon, no matter what anybody says. On this track, he takes on “New York money rappers” (Jay Z?) and casually takes a  shot a Southern Hip Hop too.

8. Big Pun ft M.O.P. - New York Giants (2000)

“Clap you with your own heat, by all means / If this was L.A., I’d be a mother fuckin O.G.” 

One of the better track of Big Pun‘s second and last album Yeeeah Baby, has Pun and guests M.O.P. delivering raw lyrics over a hyped up beat.

7. KRS One - New York (2008)

“New, York, City, still part of my heart, still part of my start / As you can see it’s still, part of my art…”

Any Hip Hop best-of  list is incomplete if KRS One isn’t on it, especially a list that deals with New York. And because it’s KRS, we can forgive him the use of the corny hook on this song.

6. Sadat X - Escape From New York (1996)

“For all those that talk the talk / But can ya walk the walk / Escape from New York” 

From Wild Cowboys, the underrated solo debut album from Brand Nubian’s Sadat X, this Pete Rock produced track is a typical mid 90’s NYC boom bap banger. Quality Hip Hop.

5. AZ - New York (ft. Raekwon and Ghostface) (2005)

“This is that, Rikers Island, not slipping rap flows / For them box bitten bing monsters, sniffin’ that blow / Block covers know the style, triple that dough…” 

A dope collaboration between underrated emcee AZ and Wu-Tang heavyweights Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, taken from AZ’s 2005 album A.W.O.L. Real Hip Hop by NYC finest.

4. Rakim - From New York To Cali (1995)

“I come again from the beginning when the drummer come in / Synonyms don’t wanna end, Rakim’s gonna win / Always seem to come out at the right time with the right rhymes / Smooth in the day and sound rough at night time”

Rakim showcases his unparalleled lyrical skills in this unreleased track from 1995. Two dope versions circulating – be sure to check them out both!

3. Kool G Rap & DJ Polo - Streets Of New York (1990)

“In the streets of New York / Dope fiends are leaning for morphine / 
The tv screens follow the homicide scenes…” 

Over a jazzy piano- and saxophone backdrop Kool G Rap relates some dark stories about life on the ghetto streets of New York in his singular lyrical style. Classic.

2. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - New York New York (1983)

“What you watch on TV / Tells you what life is supposed to be / But when you look outside the only thing you see / Is the poverty stricken reality…” 

This sequel to the monster single The Message is another brilliant and heartfelt depiction of the poverty and hopelessness in parts of New York in the early 80’s. Melle Mel’s (and Duke Bootee’s) lyrics paint a picture in a way we don’t hear in Hip Hop anymore.

1. Nas - New York State Of Mind (1994)

“I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death / Beyond the walls of intelligence, life is defined / I think of crime when I’m in a New York state of mind…” 

The best song from the best album ever? It doesn’t get any better than this. Perfection.

Honorable Mentions

  • Nas – New York State of Mind Pt. 2
  • Onyx – Walk In New York
  • Raekwon – Live From New York
  • Jay Z ft. Alicia Keys – New York
  • Fat Joe, Ja Rule & Jadakiss – New York
  • Cam’ron ft. Jay Z & Juelz Santana – Welcome to New York City
  • Busta Rhymes – New York Shit
  • Beastie Boys – An Open Letter To N.Y.C.
  • Grandmaster Melle Mel & Scorpio – New York – L.A.

Written by

HHGA founder. Hip Hop historian. Avid reader. Proud dad. Marketing guy. Top 5 Golden Age MCs: Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, KRS One, Chuck D, Nas…

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