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Production Credits:

An Open Letter to NYC Click for Lyrics

First Appearance: To the 5 Boroughs LP, 4 June 2004
Written by: Beastie Boys/S. Bators/J. Blitz/C. Chrome/J. Magnum/D. Thomas/J. Zero
Performed by: Beastie Boys
Production Notes: Produced by Beastie Boys. Mixed by Supa Engineer "DURO" for No Question Ent./Loreal Inc. Recording engineered by Beastie Boys and Jon Weiner. Turntable Extraordinaire: Mix Master Mike. Recorded and mixed at Oscilloscope Laboratories. Mastered by Chris Athens at Sterling Sound.

Behind the Beats and Lyrics...

Samples

  • "New York's My Home" by Robert Goulet
  • "Sonic Reducer" by the Dead Boys from their album Young Loud and Snotty (1977)
  • Voice of 50 Cent
  • Voice of RZA
  • Voice of Nas

References

  • Brooklyn - a borough of New York City
  • Bronx - a borough of New York City
  • Queens - a borough of New York City
  • Staten - Staten Island, a borough of New York City
  • Battery - a park at the southern tip of Manhattan
  • Manhattan - a borough of New York City
  • Wall Street - a street in lower Manhattan's financial district where the New York Stock Exchange is located
  • One and Nine line - NYC transit subway line that runs from the North Bronx down the western edge of Manhattan, finally stopping at Battery Park in lower Manhattan
  • The L - the L train runs through Brooklyn and connects to 14th Street in Manhattan
  • Number 10 Bus - covers Manhattan's Upper West Side 7th and 8th Avenues, providing service between Harlem and Penn Station
  • Boroughs - the 5 boroughs of New York City are Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Staten Island
  • QIX - an old-school arcade game in which a player controls a tiny, diamond-shaped marker with a joystick to claim 75% of the screen to win
  • Blimpies - a New York sub sandwich franchise
  • Montague Street - street in Brooklyn Heights
  • Fulton Street Mall - an outdoor pedestrian mall in downtown Brooklyn
  • Ellis Island - an island in Upper New York Bay, SW of Manhattan island; also a former U.S. immigrant examination station
  • L.I.E. - Long Island Expressway (I-495)
  • B.Q.E. - Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (I-278)
  • LSD - lysergic acid diethylamide, a potent hallucinogenic drug
  • BVDs - brand of men's undergarments founded in 1876 by Bradley, Voorhees, and Day
  • VIM - jeans and sneaker store established in 1977 and located in the greater NY Metropolitan area
  • Bleecker Bob's - a record store on West 3rd Street in Greenwich Village
  • Diana Ross (1944- ) - legendary singer who helped define the Motown sound; one of the original members and front woman of The Supremes
  • South Bronx - a neighborhood in the Bronx
  • Queensbridge - a neighborhood in Queens
  • Hollis, Queens - a neighborhood within the southeastern section of Queens
  • Bay Ridge - a neighborhood in southwest Brooklyn
  • Castle Hill - a neighborhood in the Bronx
  • Lower East Side - a neighborhood on the southeast side of Manhattan
  • 1010 WINS - a New York news radio ("All news, all the time")
  • Live at Five - a New York news program
  • High Bridge - oldest bridge in New York City that connects High Bridge Park near West 174th Street in Manhattan and West 170th Street in the Bronx<
  • Harlem - a neighborhood in Manhattan
  • Grand Concourse - one of the grand boulevards of New York that provides access from Manhattan to the large parks of the Bronx
  • Upper West - Manhattan's Upper West Side (west of Central Park)
  • 9/11 - September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people were killed when terrorists highjacked airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Centers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and into a Pennsylvania field
  • Two Towers - the two buildings of the World Trade Center that were destroyed on September 11, 2001

Sample & Reference Breakdown

  • "Listen all you New Yorkers" - a sampled from "New York's My Home" by Robert Goulet
  • The bulk of the music is sampled from "Sonic Reducer" by the Dead Boys
  • "Asian, Middle-Eastern, and Latin, black, white, New York, you make it happen" - New York City is one the most ethnically diverse cities in the world
  • "You didn't rob me in the park at Diana Ross" - refers to a playground in Central park named after Motown legend Diana Ross
  • "New York City" - a sample of rapper 50 Cent's voice
  • "New York" - a sampled of rapper RZA's voice
  • "New York City" - a sample of rapper Nas' voice

Commentary:

Beastie Boys

"The words really just came out. The track in a way dictated it, because the track had a more serious or heavier sound to it so we just talked about the idea of writing a song as a letter to New York and then we all just started writing" - Beastie Boys, 2004

Press

"Songs like [this one] pay homage to the city in literal terms. The song sounds like a mash-up remix of a lost, post-disco New York rock track, with snarling guitars and a buoyant bass line" - MTV News, 2004

"[The album's] standout track, An Open Letter to NYC, should follow Fight for Your Right, So What'cha Want and Sabotage into the Beastie Boys' hall of slang as anthems defining a moment in hip-hop history. Running on the rails of a bubbling keyboard, [this track] is a stylized shout-out to New York City, from Battery Park to Brooklyn. It may be the next phase in the post-9/11 healing process. Where Bruce Springsteen's The Rising was about recovering from wounds, the Beastie Boys' lyrics are about rising from the flames. There is little dark imagery, just a call for unity and Big Apple pride" - Michael D. Clark, Houston Chronicle, 2004

"The set frequently pays homage to the trio's New York surroundings, best heard on [this track]. In front of a chopped-up sample of the Dead Boys' 'Sonic Reducer,' the group finds solace in the city's post-September 11th resiliency: 'Since 911 we're still livin'/and lovin' life we've been given/Ain't nothing gonna take that away from us/we're lookin' pretty and gritty 'cause in the city we trust." - Jonathan Cohen, Billboard, April 2004

"[A] bittersweet ode to post-9/11 New York" - "Beauty of The Beasts" by Richard Ferrer, June 2004

"There's a post-9/11 track called An Open Letter to NYC that's as close as the Beasties ever get to Springsteen-style solemnity" - Josh Tyrangiel, Time, June 2004

"...a hymn to post-September 11 resilience" - Tom Moon, Inquirer, June 2004

"The terse 'Open Letter' manages to channel that city's post 9/11 resolve without sounding like a Bruce Springsteen song" - Sam Chennault, Houston Press, June 2004

"...[the album's] highlight" - Associated Press, June 14, 2004

"...tells the real story of the threesome in 2004: post-Sept. 11 New Yorkers looking at the world around them and wondering, 'What's going on?'" - Billboard, June 15, 2004

"Snappy rhymes and sonic thump combine in a winning display of Beastie economy, a formula the Boys fail to apply uniformly." - Edna Gundersen, USA Today, June 15, 2004

"From the beginning they have always rapped about the great New York City and this time it's no different. It starts with the title of the album and stretches to [this] song; it reminisces of their growing up and living in New York." - Josh Cannon, Indiana Statesman, June 16, 2004

"[Beastie Boys] sound heartfelt in their New York state of mind, especially the affecting on [this track]" - Russell Baillie, New Zealand Herald, June 19, 2004

"...harmless, political rhymes..." - Chloe Sasson, Sydney Morning Herald, June 23, 2004

"...affectionate if somewhat corny" - Chuck Arnold, People, July 12, 2004

 

Released Versions:

An Open Letter to NYC
An Open Letter to NYC (Acappella)
An Open Letter to NYC (Andy Wallace Mix Radio Edit)
An Open Letter to NYC (Cut Chemist Remix Instrumental)
An Open Letter to NYC (Cut Chemist Remix)
An Open Letter to NYC (Green Mix)
An Open Letter to NYC (Instrumental)
An Open Letter to NYC (Live)
An Open Letter to NYC (Radio Edit)
An Open Letter to NYC (Rub N Tug's Macho Instrumental Mix)
An Open Letter to NYC (Rub N Tug's Macho Mix)
Open Letter to Kashmir
This Matinee Letter (Beastie Boys vs. Franz Ferdinand)

Live:

Performed in 59 known Concerts.

First known Performance:
19-May-2004 : Nalen, Stockholm, Sweden

Last known Performance:
25-Aug-2007 : Greek Theatre, Berkeley, CA, United States

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