First and foremost, the most basic writing convention in song lyrics is the verse. In “Empire State of Mind II”, the verse is written in a rhythmic manner:
Grew up in a town that is famous as the place of movie scenes Noise was always loud, there are sirens all around and the streets are meanIf I can make it here, I can make it anywhere, that's what they saySeeing my face in lights or my name on marquees found down on Broadway” (Alicia Keys).
The last word at the end of each line rhymes with the last word of the next line. Using a rhyming scheme to convey personal experiences helps give the audience a sense of rhythm and connection to the writer. More importantly, it shows that Keys is passionate about her lyrics. Keys points out that although the “Noise was always loud, there are sirens all around and the streets are mean,” she keeps her head high and immediately follows up saying “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere.” This clearly shows Keys’s genuine affection for her city. Embedded deep within a song’s lyrics, the songwriter’s feelings for the subject of the song allow the audience more insight into the author’s identity.
Alicia Keys makes the chorus of her song an essential factor that highlights her main message. The chorus is an element of the song that repeats more than once and usually conveys the main message of the song. In the chorus of the song “Empire State of Mind II”, Alicia Keys recites “I got a pocketful of dreams/Baby, I'm from New York/Concrete jungle where dreams are made of/There's nothing you can't do/Now you're in New York/These street will make you feel brand new/Big lights will inspire youHear it for New York, New York, New York!” (Alicia Keys). She repeats those lines more than three times throughout the song, emphasizing her love for her hometown. The chorus also reveals Keys’s belief that there is nothing you cannot do in New York.
Alicia Keys’s word choice plays a big role in revealing aspects of her identity. In the chorus she states, “I got a pocketful of dreams/Concrete jungle where dreams are made of” (Alicia Keys). Keys is using personification, a common convention in song lyrics, to show her faith that her dreams will come true, because anything can come true in her home town.
A song’s musical rhythm also carries limitations on aspects of self-expression. In this particular song, the music is very slow-paced and filled with emotion. For this reason, certain lyrics may not correspond with the music. Another factor that limits self-expression is the song length. Because music artists are constrained to a few minutes of expression, they cannot fully disclose and explore in depth all the ideas and emotions in the song.
By contrast, an autobiography is a genre that uses completely new tools to present one’s identity. Unlike song lyrics, autobiographies are a detailed account of a person’s life, often…