New York Series: Cam’ron and Jay – Z team up on ‘Welcome to New York City’

The city of New York is used to being serenaded. Entertainers famous and obscure alike have sung the city’s praises – delivering some of their biggest records in doing so. From Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” to Jay – Z and Alecia Keys’ 2009 fall hit “Empire State of Mind,” New York City is used to being romanticized and looked at as a potential nesting ground for out-of-towners. While clearly magnetic in its appeal, the rougher parts of the city are less likely to be spotlighted during anthem songs. 

That’s the thing about hip-hop, it has always been about speaking the truth. It has a reputation for delivering an authentic inner-city experience. Harlem native Cam’ron – known for his alliteration and uniquely playful delivery – tried his hand at an ode to hip-hop’s birthplace, on the 7th track from his 2002 album, Come Home with Me.

Featuring Jay – Z, the record signified the unification of two of hip hop’s most dominant rappers: Jay – Z, the accomplished veteran and label head of Roc-A-Fella Records, and Cam’ron, the captain of influential hip hop faction Dipset. The album marked Cam’ron’s first commercial release under the label and a verse from Jay – Z was the ultimate stamp of approval for his latest signee. 

Jay – Z begins the record by shouting out a couple of legendary figures (Michael Jordan and Notorious B.I.G.) that have hailed from Brooklyn – his hometown. He then proceeds to paint a picture of his past endeavors in the streets of Brooklyn. While the verse might come off as braggadocios, it’s merely an explanation of why he would put himself in harm’s way by entering such a dangerous occupation. For every couple of bars about his cocaine exploits, it is followed up by the resulting glory that comes from it. Going from delivering the drugs to Baltimore, to being front and center at a Knicks game. 

Based on the former’s subject matter, it was pretty safe to predict what Cam’ron’s lyrics would revolve around. He wastes no time attacking the Just Blaze produced record. “Yo, there’s a war going on outside no man is safe from.” Unlike Jay – Z, he doesn’t spend any time discussing monumental figures, nor does he glorify drug dealing. Instead, he chooses to relay the realities that come with the streets, in entertaining Cam’ron fashion of course. He even manages to take a shot at fellow Harlem native Mase, attributing his departure from hip-hop due to his uneasiness with being surrounded by so much violence. Eventually Jay – Z and Cam’ron go back and forth, describing the violent crimes that they come across in their respective neighborhoods.

Overall, the record feels like a moment in time. Just Blaze’s distinctive production (loud drums, guitars and horns) captures the aggressiveness of both emcees, and the two complement each other well. The record also served as the theme song for a popular video game, True Crime: New York City.

Welcome to New York City Lyrics:

 Jay – Z 

Turn the motherfucking music up
[Cam’Ron] Just Blaze, man. You owe me n***a

 Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Welcome to the Empire State.
Home of the World Trade. Birthplace of Michael Jordan.
Home of Biggie Smalls. Roc-A-Fella headquarters.
Ladies and gentlemen, Killa Cam, Young Hov is definitely in the building
Brooklyn, Harlem World (Welcome to New York City, welcome to New York City)
Stand the f**k up!

I’m a B.K. brawler 
Marcy projects hallway loiterer
Pure coke copper, get your order up
I bring ‘em to Baltimore in the Ford Explorer
It’s going to cost you more if I gotta get em to Florida
Rucka game attender
With the bent pole on the sidewalk with the tin plates on the fender
I ain’t hard to find you catch me front and center
At the Knick game, big chain and all my splendor
Next to spike and the pen left to write
I own Madison Square, catch me at the fight
But damn once again if you pan left at the ice
If you the man that write cheques with the hand that don’t write
I go off the head when I’m rambling on the mic
And I go off the feds when I’m scrambling at night
And if its off the set I brought hammers to the fight
But we from New York City, right Cam? [Cam: Ya damn right]

It’s the home of 9-11, the place of the lost towers
We still banging, we never lost power, tell em
Welcome to New York City, welcome to New York City
Why Y’all f***n with BK’s banger and Harlem’s own gangster
Now that’s danger there’s nothing left to shape up
Welcome to New York City, welcome to New York City

Cam’ron

Yo, there’s a war going on outside no man is safe from
It don’t matter if you three feet or eight-one
You’ll get ate from me, nine and straight blown
Wig split, melon cracked, all that on day one
Carry eight guns, two in the trunk
Two in the waist, two in the ankle, two to just spank you
You can jam with them jammers, blam with them blammers
It’s hot here, ask Mase he ran to Atlanta
You think we know what life do, make want to mold the cycle
Drinkers they so delightful, blinging with so much ice
In front of sparks, body cops Dilano
Block away watch by Gotti and Girvano
It’s la costra nostra, someone close approach ya
They’ll toast ya gopher, bread loaf with shofer
Old coke they raise up and snort, blayze up ya fort
Jay puff shine, cases was caught
Midnight pick fights, they love a victim
Watch him fore he watch you, Killa

I’m from 101, west to Hunt 40th, this shit is live
Fifth-floor, 56, you know the zip, district five
You’re on 22nd, you from two-one
That’s on Lennox, 7th ave was news one
[Jay-Z]
Coverage I synethestry
Got rise from defending me
Cause New York’ll miss me if I’m locked in the penitentiary
The judge said “Is this that thug, from the kit kat club?”
But I got enough chips stacked up to make a bitch to back up
[Cam’Ron]
Killa, I pinch that bud, I grip that snub to hit that thug
Lay up in a pitch black tug,
You lookin’ at rich black thugs to get that love
And we won’t stop ‘til I get back blood
Holla at em Hov
[Jay-Z]
I’m from Flushing, Marcy, Notia, Myrtle and Park
N***as’ll drive by in the day, murder you in the dark
That’s why the Johnny gun I’m holding
Wet n***as up like the johnny-pump is open
Homie, I play hard

I’m from 101, west to Hunt 40th, this shit is live
Fifth-floor, 56, you know the zip, district five
You’re on 22nd, you from two-one
That’s on Lennox, 7th ave was news one
[Jay-Z]
Coverage I synethestry
Got rise from defending me
Cause New York’ll miss me if I’m locked in the penitentiary
The judge said “Is this that thug, from the kit kat club?”
But I got enough chips stacked up to make a bitch to back up
[Cam’Ron]
Killa, I pinch that bud, I grip that snub to hit that thug
Lay up in a pitch black tug,
You lookin at rich black thugs to get that love
And we won’t stop ‘til I get back blood
Holla at em Hov
[Jay-Z]
I’m from Flushing, Marcy, Notia, Myrtle and Park
N***gas’ll drive by in the day, murder you in the dark
That’s why the Johnny gun I’m holding
Wet n***as up like the johnny-pump is open
Homie, I play hard

Y’all n***s man, why Y’all can’t f**k around man
It’s the ROC b***h, Killa, my n***a Jigga, Sigel, Beans
Diplomats man, holla, Dash
Get the f*** off our dicks
I own this s**t right now man, I ain’t going nowhere

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