This is a tribute song to Fivio Foreign's hometown of New York City. The drill rapper professes his love for the Big Apple, referring to it as the "City of Gods."
The "City of God" is a biblical name for Heaven. Revelation 21 1-4 describes it as the "new Jerusalem," where God lives among his people and wipes "every tear from their eyes."
In the fifth century, Augustine of Hippo, a Doctor of the Church and Church Father, drew inspiration from Revelation for his monumental work, The City Of God. His epic tome, split over 22 books, was an answer to the question, "Why did God allow Rome to fall to the Barbarians so soon after enveloping Christianity?" Augustine argued that there are two cities, one earthly, Rome, which is bound to pass away in time, and one the City of God, heavenly, founded on goodness and justice which will survive the onslaught of the enemy and will last eternally.
1250 years later, the Celestial City (another name for City of God) was Christian's goal in John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.
For Fivio, New York, especially his home borough of Brooklyn, is his holy hood. It is the city of "money and violence," where gang warfare is rife and only the strong and smart survive. The "gods" who rule the city are the gangs and the drill rappers like him.
Fivio acknowledges his fallen fellow Brooklynite drill rapper Pop Smoke. He boasts that he's taken over Pop's mantle of "The King of New York," the one who runs the city's drill scene.
Fivio dedicated the song to his friend and longtime collaborator TDott Woo. The rapper was fatally shot in the Canarsie neighborhood on February 1, 2022, a week before its release. In a statement when he dropped the single, Fivio called him "the prince in the City of Gods."
Kanye West co-produced the drill track and raps a verse. Born in Chicago, Kanye moved to Newark, New Jersey, before moving to New York a couple of years later. Here, he shouts out his adopted hometown.I'm from the Chi' but I'm always New York
The city that treat me like Jesus is walkin'
Kanye says New Yorkers treat him as respectfully as the resurrected Christ, referencing one of his early hits
The song features "What?" ad-libs from Atlanta rapper Playboi Carti. Both Fivio Foreign and Playboi Carti previously featured on Kanye's Donda
track "Off The Grid
." Yeezy also references that cut at the beginning of his verse:We went off the grid. What?
Fivio recorded the song for his debut album, B.I.B.L.E. The title stands for "Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth," alluding to the Good Book.
When Fivio first got the beat, it had a sample of the Chainsmokers' "New York City." The Brooklyn rapper played it for West, who saw some possibilities and asked Fivio to send the beat so he could change it around. West removed the sample and got Keys to sing the vocals instead.
An alternative rendition, "City of Gods (Stem Version)," is the closing track of West's Donda 2 album.
Alicia Keys released a sequel titled "City of Gods (Part II)
." A stripped-back reprise, it features newly penned verses by Keys that turn the original into a solo heartbreak anthem.