Fivio Foreign’s collaboration “City of Gods” with artists Kanye West and Alicia Keys was influenced by Keys’ song with rapper Jay-Z “Empire State of Mind,” per NYS Music. The New York-born and raised rapper collaborated with Nicki Minaj on a song called “We Go Up.” Foreign and West have worked together before (per Rolling Stone), as Foreign can be heard on West’s “Off the Grid.”
“I think it’s great that Fivio is still staying true to the sound that made him a star,” said Complex’s Jessica McKinney of the rapper’s latest collaboration with West and Keys, which was released in February. “He’s consistently incorporated the drill sound into his newer music, but it sounds like an updated version.”
Keys took to Instagram to share her excitement about the collaboration and the release of the music video. The song “City of Gods” pays homage to New York but also touches on the city’s cultural themes, making it a heartfelt and passionate ode to the Big Apple.
City of Gods is a declaration of love to New York
Alicia Keys sings about the “Concrete Jungle” again as she opens the song “City of Gods” with “New York City, please go easy on me tonight / New York City, please go easy on this heart of mine” Later sing: “Because I’m losing my lover to someone else’s arms / New York City, please walk to me gently” (via Genius). Keys’ choruses are simple but reveal a relationship between the singer and the city. It’s like she’s praying for New York to heal after being betrayed, and she seeks solace in the city.
Both Keys and Fivio Foreign hail from New York, and the city is dubbed the “City of Gods” because each of the verses and choruses is a personal love story to the Big Apple, according to Song Meanings and Facts. Foreign raps about growing up in the city and paying homage to some of culture’s biggest dance trends like Milly Rock and Shmoney Dance.
According to Song Facts, Kanye West — who is originally from Chicago — shouts out his hometown in his verses, but is quick to say that his “home” is now New York. West says “I’m from the Chi’ but I’m always New York / The City that Treat Me Like Jesus is Walkin'” in the song, referencing one of his other songs and stating that the people of New York tend to treat him well.
City of Gods mentions some not-so-great things about the city
Although this song feels like a love letter to New York City, “City of Gods” also seems to touch on another big issue in today’s society – racism. Fivio Foreign, Kanye West and Alicia Keys, all black, talk about life in the city as people of color. Foreign first says in his verse, “Yeah, look, this is the city of money and violence / Everything you do will come with a challenge.” The rapper also mentions that while the city is known for a lot of great things , but also for their gangs. And even if they’re not usually violent, they still end up in the news for something, per song meanings and facts.
Meanwhile, West mentions how his celebrity status can contribute to how he’s treated, saying, “They act like they love you, they don’t even like you.” Just random things. The fact that West is a celebrity serves as a kind of protection. West also spits out the lyrics, “When you Black and you rich, they sayin’ you psycho (What?) / It’s like a cycle,” directly making a statement about how he’s sometimes treated as a successful black man in the music industry. It’s also likely a nod to how he frequently makes headlines linked to speculation about his mental health issues.