Top 10 Brooklyn Songs
Brooklyn, N.Y., has played a huge part in the development of hip-hop, which is probably why there are so many “Brooklyn songs” in existence. Artists such as Jay-Z, Lil Kim, Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def), Foxy Brown, Beastie Boys and the late Notorious B.I.G., among many others, have put their beloved hometown on the rap map.
Brooklyn is known for its multi-cultural neighborhoods, delectable restaurants, the famed Brooklyn Dodgers and now the basketball team the Brooklyn Nets (with some assist from Jay-Z, himself).
In celebration of BK and all of the hip-hop artists who hail from that N.Y. area, PopCrush created a list of the Top 10 Brooklyn Songs. It’s a tribute to a borough that is so thorough, thanks in large part to the people who inhabit it.
Produced by her former boyfriend Scott Storch, this song was the first single from Lil Kim’s ‘Naked Truth’ album. On the track, the veteran rapstress details the strife and struggles of people living in certain Brooklyn neighborhoods. Kim also gives shout-outs to various U.S. cities on the chorus. Fun fact: Kim wanted Lauryn Hill on the track, but due to label issues it never materialized.
On ‘Brooklyn,’ Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) pays homage to his beloved hometown in N.Y. A “Do-or-Die” Bed-Stuy native, Bey recalls his memories growing up in BK and how hip-hop influenced his upbringing. “I love my city / Sweet and gritty / Inland to outskirts / Nicknamed Bucktown / ‘Cause we are prone to outbursts,” he raps. Bey also samples Roy Ayers’ jazz-funk jam ‘We Live in Brooklyn, Baby,’ as he salutes various neighborhoods throughout the borough.
‘The Place Where We Dwell’
Although both Guru and DJ Premier are not Brooklyn natives, they claimed it as their home once they established themselves as Gang Starr. On all of their six albums, the duo made it a point to pay homage to BK on one or two tracks. Arguably, their most famous tribute is ‘The Place Where We Dwell.’ The song features the classic Guru line, “Never taking shorts ’cause Brooklyn’s the borough.” The late rapper takes listeners on a tourist’s ride through several BK hoods, like Fort Greene, Red Hook, Bushwick, Flatbush and others. R.I.P. Guru.
‘Where I’m From’
Coming in at No. 5 on the top Brooklyn songs is Jay-Z’s ‘Where I’m From.’ Hov is one of BK’s most successful and famous residents. On the street anthem, Jay describes the place he grew up at — Marcy Houses, a crime-riddled housing project located in Bedford-Stuyvesant. “I’m from where the beef was inevitable / Summertime’s unforgettable / Boosters in abundance / Buying half-priced sweaters new,” he raps. He’s been to many places, but he’s Brooklyn’s own.
From her ‘Broken Silence’ album, Foxy Brown salutes “the thoroughest borough” Brooklyn. Over a thumping beat, Brown tells you where she sipped Moet at, threw up at and flipped drugs at. She also gives props to BK icons Jay-Z and the late Notorious B.I.G., as well as some of the thugs who kept the block hot. “I told y’all that my borough is thorough / I know n—-s that will clap you up and bury the metal,” she spits.
‘Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers’
This 1997 piano-driven banger is the sequel to the classic 1994 Brooklyn anthem ‘Crooklyn Dodgers,’ featuring Special Ed, Masta Ace and Buckshot. The Crooklyn Dodgers ’95 group features veteran BK rhyme-slingers Chubb Rock, O.C. and Jeru da Damaja. The rap trifecta mixes social-conscious rhymes with stories about the sections of Brooklyn they grew up in. The song also samples Gang Starr’s ‘The Place Where We Dwell,’ which is also featured in our countdown.
‘Where Brooklyn At’
Before Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur became heated rivalries, they were once good friends. In a rare concert appearance, Biggie and ‘Pac graced the stage together for a freestyle session. Thankfully, somebody recorded this once-in-a-lifetime performance. Not only were B.I.G.’s verses classic, his line at the beginning — “Where Brooklyn at?” — has been sampled on hundreds of rap songs. Brooklyn was definitely in the house that night.
‘Brooklyn (Go Hard)’
Jay-Z dedicated ‘Brooklyn (Go Hard)’ to fellow Brooklynite Notorious B.I.G. and the hustlers from his BK neighborhood. Produced by Kanye West, the borough anthem bangs harder that a jackhammer on concrete. On it, Hov hits a home run with his black-hoodie raps. “I father, I Brooklyn Dodger them / I jack, I rob, I sin / Aww man, I’m Jackie Robinson / ‘Cept when I run base, I dodge the pen,” he rhymes. Brooklyn, stand up!
‘Brooklyn’s in the House’
In 1986, Cutmaster D.C. put Brooklyn, N.Y.C., on the hip-hop map with this infectious party jam that he recorded on Zakia Records. The song was such a hit, Cutmaster D.C. recorded the sequel ‘Brooklyn Rocks the Best.’ The phrase “Brooklyn’s in the house” has now been immortalized on a street sign alongside Jackie Robinson Parkway that welcomes visitors into the borough. Is Brooklyn in the house? Without a doubt!
‘No Sleep Till Brooklyn’
With its raging guitars, the Beastie Boys’ ‘No Sleep Till Brooklyn’ is the ultimate get-drunk song that’s technically not even about Brooklyn. The classic track is actually about the trio’s wild escapades on the road and a parody-of-sorts of the glam rock songs that were popular during the late ’80s. However, late rapper MCA did give a shout out to his beloved hometown on the song. “Born and bred Brooklyn, U.S.A / They call me Adam Yauch but I’m MCA / Like a lemon to a lime, a lime to a lemon / I sip the def ale with all the fly women,” he raps. R.I.P. MCA.