N.Y. State of Mind

"N.Y. State of Mind" is a song by hip hop recording artist Nas, taken from his debut studio album Illmatic (1994). The song's production was handled by DJ Premier who sampled two jazz songs: "Mind Rain" by Joe Chambers and "Flight Time" by Donald Byrd.[1] Premier additionally scratched up vocal samples from Eric B. & Rakim's "Mahogany" for the song's hook.[2] Nas raps two verses on the song in which he talks about his rapping talent and describes the dangerous environment that is the city of New York over a drum break sample of "N.T." by Kool & the Gang. Nas has attributed the song "Streets of New York" by Kool G Rap as one of the song's primary influences (Kool G Rap would later sample this song, plus give Nas a guest spot on his album 4,5,6). A sequel to "N.Y. State of Mind" can be found on Nas' 1999 album I Am....

"N.Y. State of Mind"
Song by Nas
from the album Illmatic
ReleasedApril 19, 1994
Producer(s)DJ Premier
Audio sample
"N.Y. State of Mind"


DJ Premier revealed the creative process behind "N.Y. State of Mind":[3]

"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".


"N.Y. State of Mind" ranks #74 on About.com's Top 100 Rap Songs.[4]

Rolling Stone magazine placed the song on its list of "The 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time."[5]

Marc L. Hill of PopMatters describes "N.Y. State of Mind" as a standout track on Illmatic claiming that it "provides as clear a depiction of ghetto life as a Gordon Parks photograph or a Langston Hughes poem."[6] The song is also one of a few rap songs to be featured in the Norton Anthology of African American Literature.[7] It is featured on Nas' 2007 greatest hits album as the only non-single song in the album, and on the 1999 compilation Best of D&D Studios, Vol. 1. Steve 'Flash' Juon of RapReviews.com states:

"[Illmatic] was to be an album steeped in the rich traditions of hip-hop history, mixed with the most advanced verbal styles and fat beats that could be put on wax. And if it couldn't be set off any more right already, the DJ Premier produced "N.Y. State of Mind" was designed to knock you right off your feet. Primo's knack for finding the illest piano loops and matching them to pounding beats was perfected in this track, and paired with a Rakim sample on the chorus that provided the mental link for an analogy most rap heads had already made by now: Nas was the NEW Rakim on the block.[8]

The song is included on the soundtrack of video games True Crime: New York City and Saints Row 2.[9][10]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[11] Gold 500,000 

  Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ UltraGraphik.com Sampleur: "NY State of Mind" Search[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Scratchfaq.com: "N.Y. State of Mind" Search[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Cho, Jaeki. "DJ Premier Tells All: The Stories Behind His Classic Records". complex.com. Complex. Retrieved 2018-11-03. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Top 100 Rap Songs.
  5. ^ "50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone.
  6. ^ Hill, Marc. "Illmatic (Anniversary Edition) Review". PopMatters. Retrieved January 18, 2008. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Contents | The Norton Anthology of African American Literature | W. W. Norton & Company". books.wwnorton.com.
  8. ^ Juon, Steve. "Nas' Illmatic at RapReviews.com". Retrieved January 18, 2008. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Saints Row 2 Soundtrack Songlist revealed". videogamesblogger.com. Retrieved 27 May 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "True Crime: New York City Soundtrack Revealed". IGN. IGN. Retrieved 27 May 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "American single certifications – Nas – N.Y. State of Mind". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved February 12, 2019. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 

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