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Empire State of Mind: How Jay Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office, Revised Edition Paperback – September 22, 2015
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"Greenburg has become one of the rare reporters to bring dignified coverage of the hip-hop business into the mainstream. Empire State of Mind is a pure product of Greenburg’s care and insight, an exploration of hip-hop’s most enigmatic mogul."
—Dan Charnas, author of The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop
"Greenburg follows the money and key pieces of the Jay Z puzzle in this insightful,savvy read. This book is like a GPS leading us through the modern urban realityof how Jay Z’s empire was built."
—Fab 5 Freddy, artist, hip-hop pioneer, and former host of Yo! MTV Raps
"A superb guide for your career, even if you are looking to be an investment banker or grocery store manager instead of a hip-hop legend."
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Top Customer Reviews
As it turns out, Greenburg pitched the book to Jay-Z's management, but they refused to participate and instead went on to write "Decoded" so they could profit directly.
"Decoded" reads like one of those Donald Trump autobiographies: a very self-congratulatory, shallow look into how he thinks (which is somewhat valuable in its own right), but devoid of any juicy revelation beneath the surface.
"Empire State of Mind," on the other hand, paints a very nuanced picture of Jay-Z's character and gives detailed insight into his major business decisions, including the flops and near-misses that Jay-Z doesn't seem to talk about publicly.
If you want direct testimony from key players in Jay-Z's early life, including former business partner Damon Dash, former mentor Jaz-O, and Dehaven Irby (the guy who introduced Jay-Z to drug-dealing), this is probably the only place you'll be able to find it, since most of them have fallen out and don't talk to him anymore.
Greenburg has done a metric ton of research and reconnaissance work, yet his prose flows smooth like Jay-Z's rhymes. The end result is a fascinating read. Highly recommended.
Jay-Z is naturally an intriguing figure, part-musician, part-former hustler, part-executive - just to name a few of the roles he has played. Yet Greenburg - to his credit - does more than simply kowtow to the great lyricist. Greenburg digs further to paint a comprehensive, inquiring, insightful and often less-than-flattering view of one of the great entrepreneurs of the last 50 years.
Greenburg's book reveals Jay's obvious successes, to be sure: rising from dealing in Brooklyn to a career as a recording artist, a successful turn atop Def Jam Records, a happy marriage with Beyonce. But Greenburg also covers those items Jay doesn't want you to know about: a covert deal to profit from Armand de Brignac champagne; a failed attempt at making a basketball documentary; an aborted effort to release a Jay-Z edition Jeep; and repeated failures as part-owner of the Nets.
Greenburg's warranted conclusion is that Jay-Z is a tremendous businessman and individual. The unique piece Greenburg brings to this story is that Jay came to this success through a portfolio approach, dabbling in so many different industries and fields that while some ventures flopped (see: LeBron in South Beach), many others have resulted in unprecedented revenue and publicity (see: Live Nation). Jay would have you know nothing of those failures. Fortunately, Greenburg thinks otherwise. Do yourself a favor: Read this book.
That said, I should point out that what ultimately made this book enjoyable was how well-written it was, with a touch of humor here and there (in well-placed quotes from Greenburg's sources) and a persistently neutral tone. Should we like Jay-Z? Maybe not. Should we respect him? Well, how can you avoid it? When you finally put the book down, how can you not want to be just a little bit more like him?
The book is really riveting - very hard to put down, especially in the chapters that cover things that seem not to have been reported on before, like the champagne and Jay-Z jeep stories. The characters who interact with him, and the perspective you get from hearing from both friends and enemies, business partners and his business victims, propel the narrative forward.
I'm not exactly sure if you come away "liking" Jay-Z because he's so ruthless, but you certainly come away admiring him. It's an excellent read!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is a very well thought out biography. Relatable in its language and a very fair assessment and explanation of JayZs background and career. Hilarious endingPublished 1 month ago by Chandler Milligan
Want to learn how to get access inside the mind of a great entrepreneur? This books gives you that and more.Published 1 month ago by Geo Derice
Bought for an incarcerated young man who is hardheaded and thinks he is tough! This young man migrates towards trouble or starts it. Read morePublished 2 months ago by magic
Pretty standard biopic...interesting to hear how he parted ways from those who showed him the ropes.Published 3 months ago by SpaceBrotha
An engaging book filled with quotes and anecdotal stories... just none from Jay himself. Worth the read, but I'll be interested to see how it compares to Jay's own memoir:... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Richard D. Haase
Well researched, concise, and clearly written, but lacks a certain pop. Provides an excellent chronology of Jay-Z's life and successes but fails to offer any particularly... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Alex Bush
While tracing Jay Z's roots, I was able to discover his former turf in the Bronx. most of his friends were there and most of them are,of course, african americans. Read morePublished 4 months ago by wallace flynn
Excellent book, written very well and kept me entertained the entire time.Published 5 months ago by Joshua Mallen