Alicia Keys Reveals Jay-Z Almost Replaced Her On "Empire State Of Mind"

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2009 MTV Video Music Awards - Show
Jay-Z and Alicia Keys perform onstage during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on September 13, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Jay-Z apparently struggled to get into contact with Alicia Keys.

During a recent interview with Mix 94.7, Alicia Keys discussed her hit 2009 collab with Jay-Z, "Empire State Of Mind." The songstress revealed that she was close to being replaced on the track, due to Jay-Z having difficulty contacting her. According to Keys, her famous part in the song was almost sung by somebody else.

“He had this idea, he wanted to build it out. He wanted to make it the New York energy,” the artist explained. “The crazy part of that story that I just love is that he actually couldn’t get in touch with me because you go through the different channels, management, all these different places.” Jay-Z initially had the song's original writers, Angela Hunte and Janet Sewell-Ulepic, singing the hook. They suggested that the Roc Nation founder tap Keys for the chorus, and the rest was history.

Read More: Jay-Z & Alicia Keys’ “Empire State Of Mind” Has Gone 9X Platinum

Jay-Z Thought He Had "To Move On"

He couldn’t really get movement on it. And so at one point, he was like, ‘Alright, I might have to move on, I can’t connect with her. I guess I have to do it with somebody else,'" Keys continued. "Could you imagine if that ended up happening? I think about it all the time.” The iconic song certainly wouldn't be the same without the stylings of Alicia Keys, and surely fans are glad they were eventually able to connect.

"Empire State Of Mind" went 9X platinum at the end of last month, now selling over 9 million units. It was a major success upon its release, landing at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks straight. It was the first of Jay-Z's songs as lead artist to hit No. 1. The song went gold, and platinum within only two months, cementing its place in hip hop history. Apparently, the song has even done so well that the artists worry about creating something on the same level. Last year, Keys told E! News that she feels it "hinders" the collaborators, as they fear the 2009 track can never be topped.

Read More: Alicia Keys Tour 2023: Dates, Tickets & More


About The Author
Caroline Fisher is a News Writer at HotNewHipHop from Chicago, Illinois. She started at HNHH this year, and has since spent her time writing about all that is newsworthy in the world of hip-hop. With a drive for hunting down the hottest stories, she enjoys documenting new developments in culture and entertainment. She also has an appreciation for hip-hop and seeks to cover the most important trends and shifts. She has a Bachelor of Arts which she received at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Having graduated in 2022, she majored in English with a concentration in Media, Rhetoric and Cultural Studies. Specializing all things music, pop culture and entertainment, some of her favorite musical artists include Snoop Dogg, OutKast, and Nicki Minaj. When she’s not writing about music she’s also a fan of attending shows, watching the latest movies, staying up-to-date with current events, photography, and poetry.