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Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office Hardcover – March 17, 2011
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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?
* Reads like a collection of business articles, not a biography. Probably because it was . . .
* Jay-Z didn't allow access and many others steered clear because of that. Unfortunately, it reads like someone far removed from the real person.
* While some of the business insights are interesting, not of much help to the average entrepreneur - not a business book in the traditional sense.
Jay-Z is a very intelligent businessman who has carefully cultivated a certain image. The author rarely breaks through that image to expose the real Jay-Z, Shawn Carter.
On a side note, this book also exposes how corporate popular music has become. I read somewhere that there are no Jay-Z fans anymore, just Jay-Z customers . . . pretty close to the real truth. It would be hard for me to recommend this book to many people. It's well written, but not insightful or helpful.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Didn't come with a jacket cover. But all the words are in the book ^_^Published 9 days ago by E. Veal
Not well researched or well written book. The author relies way too much on song lyrics and obscure people on the fringes of Jay-Z's social circle to substitute for an interview... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
As someone with little knowledge of the inner workings of the Rap industry, I found Empire State of Mind to be an interesting read. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Rick 77339
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 4 months 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 4 months ago by Geo Derice