Jay-Z’s New York Reality Tour

Ever wonder which parts of the Big Apple are nearest and dearest to the “Empire State of Mind” rapper’s heart? Here are seven of them.

In his Big Apple ballad “Empire State of Mind,” Jay-Z shouts out hometown landmarks from the Statue of Liberty to Yankee Stadium, places that are already on the to-do lists of your typical Times Square tourist.

But there are scores of lesser-known spots throughout the city with a special significance to the rapper, as I learned in writing my book Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner To Corner Office. One need only listen closely to his records—and keep an eye on Page Six—to get a sense of where they are, and why they matter.

For those without the time to undertake such an endeavor, I’ve compiled a short virtual guide to Jay-Z’s New York. Below, you’ll find seven places where the Brooklyn-bred rapper has lived, worked and played. And if you’d like to explore from the overheated warmth of your rent-controlled apartment, these locales can be viewed with Google Maps‘ street view function.

If you don’t mind stomping around the city in frigid midwinter, though, keep your eyes peeled for a Maybach idling outside any of the places below…

1. Marcy Houses

648 Park Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11206

“Marcy raised me,” Jay-Z explains on the song “Blueprint.” He’s not referring to a lady, but rather the housing projects located near the Flushing Avenue G-train stop in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where he grew up. Now that he’s moved to Tribeca, don’t expect Jay or fancy friends like Gwenyth Paltrow to make the trek out to his old hood—Marcy has been making headlines recently as the home of a herd of three-foot sewer rats http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/25/giant-rat-at-brooklyns-ma_n_937316.html.

2. “Stash Spot”

560 State Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217

After graduating from Marcy (and briefly relocating to Trenton, NJ) Jay-Z moved on to—where else?—the toney enclave of Boerum Hill. On his smash hit “Empire State of Mind,” Jay-Z talks about his hustling days and his “stash spot, 560 State Street,” a building once known as a haven for artists. He might have reason to consider moving back: the low-rise apartment building is just blocks from the new Barclays Center, soon to be the home of the Brooklyn Nets; Jay-Z holds a small stake in the team.

3. Nello

696 Madison Avenue 

New York, NY 10065

Known more for its sky-high prices than stellar cuisine, Nello customers pay a premium for the possibility of ending up next to the likes of Jay-Z, a frequent patron. My advice: make yourself a pot of pasta, put on Watch The Throne, and save yourself some Benjamins.


4. The 40/40 Club
6 West 25th Street

New York, NY

It’s hard to listen to a Jay-Z album without hearing at least a few lines about his nightspot, which closed for renovations after nearly a decade of NBA Draft afterparties and overpriced cocktails. The 40/40 will re-open this winter after a $10 million revamp.

5. The Trump International

1 Central Park West

New York, NY 10023

Can’t find Jay-Z? “I’m at the Trump International, ask for me.” At least that’s what he said in the song “What More Can I Say,” likely referring to the time he holed up in the Columbus Circle hotel after allegedly stabbing record producer Lance Rivera at the Kit Kat Klub (a now-defunct nightspot in Times Square). After years of legal wrangling, Jay-Z got away with probation.

6. The Spotted Pig

314 West 11th Street

New York, NY 10014

The super-trendy West Village gastropub is perhaps just as well known for its celebrity clientele and ownership. Jay-Z is a co-owner, reportedly with other luminaries including Bono and Mario Batali.


7. Lenox Hill Hospital

100 East 77th St

New York, NY 10075

Of all Jay-Z’s Big Apple Haunts, Lennox Hill is likely his dearest of late, and may be for some time: his daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, was born there on Saturday, January 7th; days later, Jay-Z released an ode to fatherhood called “Glory.” The track featured gurgles from his daughter—and quickly charted on Billboard, making her the youngest artist to accomplish such a feat.

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