Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind Lyrics Explained

December 10, 2009

This was posted by The AWL explaining a confusing 8 words from Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind. Now I though the lyric was “If Jesus is payin LeBron I’m payin Dwyane Wade” I didn’t think much of it, I just thought it was something rappers said that wasn’t suppose to exactly make sense but really sounded bad ass. I was apparently wrong and AWL cleared that all up. Take a look:

The lyric in question is usually misconstrued in one of two ways. Either:

1) It’s misheard as: “If Jesus paying LeBron, I’m paying Dwyane Wade.”


2) It’s heard correctly, but taken literally, as: “If Jeezy’s paying LeBron, I’m paying Dwyane Wade.”

Here’s how the different scenarios break down:

1) “If Jesus is paying LeBron, I’m paying Dwyane Wade.” A lot of people assume that this means that there’s someone named Jesus who owns a large equity stake in an NBA franchise who is vying for LeBron James (one of the best NBA players of all time, and close friend of Jay-Z) when James hits the market as a free agent in 2010. Well, you know what they say about happens when you assume, and that’s just what you’ve done. No one named Jesus, pronounced like the son of God and not in the more commonly used Hispanic way, owns any part of any NBA team. Sorry.

2) “If Jeezy’s paying LeBron, I’m paying Dwyane Wade.” So now you might think, okay, maybe the popular rapper Young Jeezy owns a bit of an NBA team, just like Jay-Z does, and he’s saying that if Jeezy signs LeBron, Jay-Z will then settle for Dwyane Wade. Again, you could not be anymore incorrect, I’m sorry. Young Jeezy also does not have any points in an NBA franchise. It seems weird that you even thought that.

The actual answer is a bit more complicated.

In Young Jeezy’s song “24-23 (Kobe-Lebron),” Jeezy uses the players’ jersey numbers to articulate the price he’s paying of a kilogram of cocaine.

The chorus of that song goes, “I used to pay Kobe [24], but now I pay LeBron [23].” This means that he used to pay $24,000 for a kilo of coke, whereas now? He only pays $23,000, you see.

So. In “Empire,” Jay-Z takes this one step further, so as to show his impressive status in New York. He suggests that, while Jeezy may be paying $23,000, Jay-Z is paying a mere $3000 (expressed as Dwyane Wade’s jersey number) for a kilo of cocaine

Interesting eh? At least you know you’ll be singing the lyrics right from now on.

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