STORY OF SONG
“N.Y. State of Mind” is a hip-hop track from rapper Nas, from his 1994 debut album “Illmatic”. The production on the track (done by Chris Martin, known as DJ Premier) samples two jazz tracks: “Mind Rain” by Joe Chambers and “Flight Time” by Donald Byrd, as well as vocal samples from Eric B. & Rakim’s track “Mahogany” for the song’s hook.
The song consists of Nas rapping about the dangerous environment in New York City, and DJ Premier spoke to Complex Magazine in February 2011 about the creative process behind “N.Y. State of Mind”: “That was just amazing because it happened in this room. Actually, anything from ’92 and on, we did it here. It was just amazing watching him work because I was already a fan of him when he did ‘Back to the Grill’, ‘Halftime’, ‘It Ain’t Hard to Tell’, and ‘Live at the Barbeque’. So when I heard him on those records I was like, ‘Yo, I got to do something that’s on the same level’. So I came in here. and flipped the ill, gutter, Joe Chambers sample. I can tell you because it’s cleared. Nas watched me build the beat from scratch. And he wrote the verse in the studio. If you listen to ‘N.Y. State of Mind’ you’ll hear him going, ‘I don’t know how to start this shit’, because he literally just wrote it. Before he started the verse I was signaling him going, ‘One, two, three’, and he just goes in like, ‘Rappers I monkey flip’em, in the funky rhythm”. He did that in one take. After he did that first verse, he goes, ‘How was that? Did that sound all right?’ And we were just like, ‘Oh, my God! The streets are going to go crazy when they hear this!’. It was one take, but he would format it before. He’ll sit at the front, cover his mouth when the beat’s playing, and would mumble it. So we can’t hear what he’s saying”.
There is no music video for the track, but the official audio video on Nas’ official YouTube channel has over 7.6 million views since its upload in May 2017.
Release Date: 19th April 1994
Songwriter/s: Nasir Jones (Nas) & Chris Martin (DJ Premier)
Producer/s: DJ Premier
Label/s: Columbia Records
Certifications & Accolades: The track received Gold certification in the US, as well as Rolling Stone magazine placing the song in their “50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time” as well as About.com ranking it at #74 on their “Top 100 Rap Songs” list.