3 pimp activites plus 2 mentions of NBA players plus 2 cuss words= a popular rap these days
This is why lots of people listen to oldschool, cuz it has no formula.
In "Empire State of Mind", he talks about bein' hood forever, everybody riding his mom, and sitting courtside with Knicks and Nets giving him high fives. He mentions LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. He says "shit" and "nigga".
These songs were complete and popular because they fit the rap formula.