Puneet Varma (Editor)

Niggas in Paris

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Format  Digital download
Genre  Hip hop
Recorded  2011
Length  3:39
Released  September 13, 2011 (2011-09-13)
Label  Roc-A-Fella Roc Nation Def Jam

"Niggas in Paris" (edited for radio as "In Paris" or simply "Paris", edited for album as "Ni**as in Paris") is a song by American rappers Kanye West and Jay-Z from their collaboration album Watch the Throne (2011).


The song contains samples from "Baptizing Scene" by Reverend W.A. Donaldson and also samples dialogue from DreamWorks Pictures' 2007 film Blades of Glory. It debuted at number 75 on the US Billboard Hot 100 on the week of the album's release. The song has since peaked at number 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming Kanye West's 14th top-10 single and Jay-Z's 18th making Jay-Z the rapper with the most top-10 hits. As of November 2012, it has sold 3 million digital units in the United States.

"Niggas in Paris" won Best Rap Performance at the 55th Grammy Awards.


In an interview, Kanye West revealed that the song was inspired by his travels in Paris:

I am where art meets commercial. The sweet spot between the hood and Hollywood. Having a conversation with Karl Lagerfeld and Jay-Z within the same hour. When we're in Paris dressing all crazy at fashion shows, we listening to Jay-Z. Jeezy in Paris, that's what it is.

The song's production was originally offered to rapper Pusha T by Hit-Boy. However, Pusha turned it down, saying "It sounds like a video game. Get that shit out of here!"


The artwork for "Niggas in Paris" features the flag of France with a black third substituted for the blue one and is exactly the same cover used for Kanye West and Jay-Z's song "Why I Love You" which was released to radios simultaneously with "Niggas in Paris" on September 13, 2011. Alternative artwork, similar to the album cover, was used on Pandora.

Covers, remixes and freestyles

The official remix features rapper T.I.. Remixes or freestyles on this beat created by other artists include a remix by Chris Brown and T-Pain, a freestyle by Game titled "Niggas in Compton", a freestyle by Meek Mill which appeared on his mixtape Dreamchasers, a remix by Busta Rhymes, a remix by Chevy Woods titled "Taylors in Paris", a freestyle by Trey Songz which appeared on his mixtape #LemmeHolDatBeat2 titled "Trigga In Africa", a remix by E.S.G. titled "Niggas in Houston", and a remix by Felony titled "Niggas in Harris. Mos Def made a freestyle to the song called "Niggas in Poorest". Other rappers that did freestyles include Young Jeezy, Lil Wayne, Freddie Gibbs, Emilio Rojas, Traphik, German rapper and Romeo Miller. Casper has at times performed a German version of the track at concerts. British rap-metal band Hacktivist have covered the song, which has become a live staple during the group's shows.

American recording artist Katy Perry performed a clean version of the track on March 19, 2012 as part of a Live Lounge special for Fearne Cotton's show on BBC Radio 1 in the United Kingdom. The track, which was performed alongside "The One That Got Away", "Firework", "Thinking of You" and "Part of Me", saw the artist rap to re-worded verses from Jay-Z and Kanye West.

American alternative metal band Faith No More also covered the song live in 2012.

The British rap metal/progressive metal/djent band Hacktivist released a cover of the song with an accompanying video on 6 August 2013. Prior to this the cover had been a regular feature of their live sets.

Watsky released a freestyle of the song called "Ninjas in Paris" on his 2012 album "Nothing like the first time".

Music video

On December 13, 2011, after their last Los Angeles stop at Staples Center on their Watch the Throne Tour, Jay-Z announced that the live performance would be used for the song's music video. The video was released on February 9, 2012 through VEVO and was directed by West himself. The video features the live concert footage treated with strobe effects, kaleidoscopic mirrored images, inserts of jungle cats, and imagery of Paris landmarks (prominently Notre Dame de Paris).

As with the track itself, the video also features a brief snippet of footage from Blades of Glory. Kid Cudi, Hit-Boy, and King Chip make brief appearances in the video. The video also contains a warning message to viewers on the flash photography in the video.

Critical reception

The song received universal acclaim from many critics. Rolling Stone commented on the song by saying "Jay and Ye come in hard over a slow, menacing beat and icy synthesizer notes, but regardless, this cut is mostly memorable for including an unexpected sample of dialogue from the Will Ferrell/Jon Heder ice-skating comedy Blades of Glory. 'No one knows what it means, but it's provocative,' says Ferrell with deep conviction, essentially summing up the art of hip-hop lyrics." Billboard commented on the song by saying, "Kanye steals the show on the Hit-Boy produced club anthem. A sampling of dialogue from the 2007 film Blades of Glory is tucked in between."

The Guardian called the song a standout track on the album and also commented by saying "This percolating track could have been produced by Wiley, with sick sub-bass and a snare that sounds like static. Both rappers are in excellent form, with West repeating 'That shit cray'. Kanye begins in half-time and speeds up. Among the lines that jump out: "I'm suffering from realness" and 'Don't let me get in my zone.' A standout track." Pitchfork complimented that the song possessed great moments by Kanye West and said the following: "It also features this great Kanye moment, 'Doctors say I'm the illest because I'm suffering from realness/Got my niggas in Paris, and they going gorillas.'" Pitchfork later named "Niggas In Paris" the 12th best track of 2011 and Rolling Stone named it the second best of the year. XXL named "Niggas In Paris" the best song of 2011 as well as the "hottest beat" of 2011. Digital Spy placed this song on their 24th spot of the best songs of 2011. It was voted number 98 in Australia's annual Triple J Hottest 100, 2011. XXL named it one of the top five hip hop songs of 2011. The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop annual critics' poll ranked "Niggas in Paris" at number five to find the best music of 2011.

Live performances

The song has been performed on the Watch the Throne Tour. MTV News said with "the track's Will Ferrell intro ("We're gonna skate to one song and one song only") brought on the moment that everyone was waiting for." USA Today commented "at one point, as Jay-Z and West performed Niggas in Paris from their new hit CD, Watch the Throne, West exhorted the audience to "Bounce! Bounce!" The resulting stomping had Philips Arena rocking and shaking in a way that it hasn't for the Hawks in a long time."

In early stops, the song was performed three times. Kanye West and Jay-Z began performing the song more than thrice at the Miami show at American Airlines Arena by performing the song five times. The song was played six times at the TD Garden in Boston on November 21, 2011 setting a record for the tour at the time. It was then broken when it was performed seven times at The Palace of Auburn Hills. It was again broken on December 1, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois when the duo performed the song 8 times.

On December 12, 2011 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, the song was played a total of 9 times, a record which would stand until the next night, when the duo performed the song 10 times. The crowd was also told that cameras had been brought to the concert for the record breaking December 13th performance to film the music video for the song. The song was also performed live as part of the 2011 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. During the Final Tour Stop in Vancouver the aforementioned record was met again with the duo performing the song ten times on the final night, December 18 at Rogers Arena, despite several newspaper articles claiming that it was performed a total of eleven times.

On June 1, 2012 during their first date in Paris, at the Palais Omnisports de Bercy, they actually broke the record, performing the song 11 times. They claimed themselves that the record was held by Los Angeles, when Jay-Z said: "The record is held by L.A. with ten times. [..] But this song isn't called "Niggas in Los Angeles". [...] We gotta break that record and bring it to 11", thus ending the rumors concerning the record being broken in Vancouver. The last record (established in Paris as well) has been broke again on June 18, 2012 performed 12 times in Paris at Palais Omnisports Paris Bercy. The song was performed live at BBC Radio 1's Hackney Weekend on 23 June 2012 as part of the London 2012 Festival.

"Niggas in Paris" was also performed in Kanye's Israel concert at Ramat Gan Stadium on 30 September 2015.

Chart performance

On August 27, 2011, "Niggas in Paris" made its debut on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number 75, making it the second highest debut for any non-single on the album behind only "Who Gon Stop Me". On the US Billboard Hot Digital Songs the song debuted at number 58 even before it was released as a single from the album. It has since peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100. As of November 2012, the song has sold 3 million copies in the United States.

In the United Kingdom, the song peaked at number ten on the UK Singles Chart on March 18, 2012 ― for the week ending date March 24, 2012 ― spending ten weeks in the top forty of the chart, selling 200,000 copies. According to the Official Charts Company, the song has sold 432,000 copies in Britain.

Uses in media

  • The song was used for a viral video composed by the campaign team for French presidential election candidate and current president François Hollande.
  • Credits and personnel

    The credits for "Niggas in Paris" are adapted from the liner notes of Watch the Throne.

  • Recorded at: Hôtel Meurice, Paris.
  • Personnel
  • Kanye West – songwriting, vocals, production
  • Jay-Z – songwriting, vocals
  • Hit-Boy – songwriting, production
  • Mike Dean – mastering, songwriting, production
  • Anthony Kilhoffer – audio mixing, additional production
  • Noah Goldstein – recording
  • Reverend W.A. Donaldson – songwriting
  • Samples
  • Contains samples from the motion picture Blades of Glory, used courtesy of Paramount Pictures, and contains elements of "Baptizing Scene", performed and written by Reverend W.A. Donaldson.
  • References

    Niggas in Paris Wikipedia

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