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Since I haven’t gotten the Cuban Linx 2 leak yet (I know), I’ve been bumping Blueprint 3 for the past week. One of my favorite tracks already being blasted on radio, in New York at least, is “Empire State of Mind” featuring Alicia Keys and… no Nas. Grumble if you will, but the album is solid – the best Jay-Z project we can ask for right now. As for “Empire State,” it feels like the rap version of Frank Sinatra’s version of “New York, New York.” I’m already expecting some kind of All-star remix and perhaps a Jim Jones remake, “Harlem State of Mind.” I don’t see any way Jay’s not performing that song at his 9/11 MSG concert – could be the perfect show closer to go along with an NYC anthem medley.

Whether you like the song or not, “Empire State” is just one of many city anthems in hip-hop. Rap is all about where you’re from, going from ashy to classy while paying homage to your humble beginnings. So when rappers get on, they gotta put on for their city, whether it’s Pac’s “California Love,” Common’s “Chi City,” Nelly’s “St. Louie,” Ludacris’ “Welcome to Atlanta,” etc. Getting even more specific, what about borough anthems, like B.I.G.’s “Brooklyn’s Finest,” 50 Cent’s “Queens” and Jay’s “Brooklyn Go Hard.”

If the song is good enough, even if you’re not from that place, it makes you want to go there. Since I’m New Yawk-raised (Queens!), here’s my personal NYC anthem playlist. Where you from and what city anthems get you amped? —clovito

Jay-Z, “Empire State of Mind”
“Welcome to the melting pot, corners where we sellin’ rock/Afrika Bambaataa shit, home of the hip-hop/Yellow cab, gypsy cab, dolla cab, holla back”

Cam’ron, “Welcome to New York City” feat. Jay-Z
“You can jam with them jammers, blam with them blamers/It’s hot here, ask Mase, he ran to Atlanta”

Nas, “N.Y. State of Mind”
“In the PJ’s, my blend tape plays, bullets are strays/Young bitches is grazed, each block is like a maze/Full of black rats trapped, plus the Island is packed”

Big Pun feat. M.O.P. “New York Giants”
“This is for my 25 to life bidders, pork fried rice eaters/New York, New York, ice rockin’ tight wifebeaters”

Ja Rule, “New York” feat. Fat Joe, Jadakiss
“And Rule gon’ bring the ghetto gospel/To every hood possible, pushin’ through in the sky blue/Back with the gods you now, preferably the 4 pound/Slugs flyin’ at the speed of sound”

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