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Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office
 
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Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office [Hardcover]

Zack O'Malley Greenburg
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)


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Book Description

March 17, 2011
Some people think Jay-Z is just another rapper. Others see him as just another celebrity/mega-star. The reality is, no matter what you think Jay-Z is, he first and foremost a business. And as much as Martha Stewart or Oprah, he has turned himself into a lifestyle. You can wake up to the local radio station playing Jay-Z's latest hit, spritz yourself with his 9IX cologne, slip on a pair of his Rocawear jeans, lace up your Reebok S. Carter sneakers, catch a Nets basketball game in the afternoon, and grab dinner at The Spotted Pig before heading to an evening performance of the Jay-Z-backed Broadway musical Fela! and a nightcap at his 40/40 Club. He'll profit at every turn of your day. But despite Jay-Z's success, there are still many Americans whose impressions of him are foggy, outdated, or downright incorrect. Surprisingly to many, he honed his business philosophy not at a fancy B school, but on the streets of Brooklyn, New York and beyond as a drug dealer in the 1980s. Empire State of Mind tells the story behind Jay-Z's rise to the top as told by the people who lived it with him- from classmates at Brooklyn's George Westinghouse High School; to the childhood friend who got him into the drug trade; to the DJ who convinced him to stop dealing and focus on music. This book explains just how Jay-Z propelled himself from the bleak streets of Brooklyn to the heights of the business world. Zack O'Malley Greenburg draws on his one-on-one interviews with hip-hop luminaries such as DJ Clark Kent, Questlove of The Roots, Damon Dash, Fred "Fab 5 Freddy" Brathwaite, MC Serch; NBA stars Jamal Crawford and Sebastian Telfair; and recording industry executives including Craig Kallman, CEO of Atlantic Records. He also includes new information on Jay-Z's various business dealings, such as: * The feature movie about Jay-Z and his first basketball team that was filmed by Fab 5 Freddy in 2003 but never released. * The Jay-Z branded Jeep that was scrapped just before going into production. * The real story behind his association with Armand de Brignac champagne. * The financial ramifications of his marriage to Beyonce. Jay-Z's tale is compelling not just because of his celebrity, but because it embodies the rags-to-riches American dream and is a model for any entrepreneur looking to build a commercial empire.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"Jay-Z's rise to fame has as many lessons for would-be moguls as for budding rappers ... All these lessons are clear from "Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner to Corner Office, " by Zack O'Malley Greenburg (Portfolio, $25.95), one of the year's best rock books." -"Bloomberg News" "Well told ... the heart of "Empire State of Mind" is its depiction, helped by some good shoe-leather reporting, of the commercial deals that have enabled Jay-Z to profit from exploiting his prestige and personality." -"The Financial Times" "In his debut book, Greenburg hits the mark. "Empire State of Mind" is an easy read that packs an informative, motivational punch for anyone who is trying to improve their situation, land a job, or advance their career." - "AOL/Huffington Post" "Zack O'Malley 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, Jay-Z." -Dan Charnas, author of "The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop" ""Empire State Of Mind" 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 reality of how Jay-Z's empire was built." -Fred "Fab 5 Freddy" Brathwaite, hip-hop artist and pioneer "Lively and often surprising, "Empire State Of Mind" analyzes one of the greatest assets of the hip-hop generation: the business mind of Jay-Z. In capturing Jay-Z's refuse to lose mentality, Zack O'Malley Greenburg tells an important, instructive American story of our time." -Jeff Chang, author of "Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation" "Business savvy is really what sets Jay-Z apart, and that's the subject of Zack O'Malley Greenburg's enlightening, engaging, and excellent new book ... Greenburg zeroes in on Jay-Z's ability to hustle in the studio and in the boardroom, creating a fascinating look at the businessman behind the man. In addition, he writes with a rapid-fire prose that makes Empire State of Mind flow like an novel or film." -ArtistDirect "Every person with an iota of entrepreneurial inclination should read "Empire State of Mind .".. [Greenburg's] understanding of hip-hop and his familiarity with the world of high finance make him uniquely suited to pen such a smart, informative and entertaining work. Excellence!" -"Hip-Hop Weekly" "Before Diddy and his missing Mercedes-Benz S-Class, before Eminem and his imported-from-Detroit Chrysler 200, even before Funkmaster Flex and his special-edition Ford Expedition, there was the Jay-Z Jeep Commander. You would be forgiven, however, for not remembering the commercials ... the Jay-Z Jeep never rolled deep. Mr. Greenburg dissects how the collaboration went awry." -The "New York Times" "Greenburg writes of Jay-Z's rocky beginnings in the Brooklyn projects and his detour into street-corner dealing, but mainly focuses on Jay-Z the mogul, whose reach extends beyond music to the NBA, apparel, restaurants, endorsements and Broadway. Check it out." ""-"USA Today" "O'Malley Greenburg is easily the world's foremost authority on the subject of the finance of hip-hop ... Acting often as investigative reporter, he travels thousands of miles to hunt down insider information on Jay's various ventures, from the Jay-Z Jeep that never came to be, to the hush-hush details of the rapper's partnership with champagne Armand de Brignac ... Greenburg does a great job of unpacking the rapper's business mentality, and the steps he's taken to earn his half-billion." -Crawdaddy "The biography by journalist Zack O'Malley Greenburg, out this month, provides a colorful reminder of the rapper's dark roots." -"New York"" Post" "After reading Greenburg's book, I have to admit I understand why [Jay-Z] makes 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." -Anthony Balderrama, "CNN.com"" ""["Empire State of Mind"] has some interesting sources and revelations that may shock even the biggest super-fan." -"HipHopDX" "The new biography of the rap mogul lavishes praise on Jay-Z but also depicts a businessman with Antarctica for a heart." -"Bloomberg BusinessWeek" ""Empire State of Mind" tells the story of rapper Jay-Z (aka Shawn Carter) and his rise from drug slinger to tape slinger and, later, to corporation runner." -"NPR" "Zack O'Malley Greenburg's book take us comfortably through the story of Jay-Z's background, hard start, challenges, opportunities, talents, success, and choices. This is an easy and comfortable read." -"New York"" Journal of Books" "If Jay-Z's collective body of work was 'Food For Thought' ... Greenburg does this dishes in his literary debut. Greenburg uses his extensive resources (perhaps garnered as the crafter of the famous "Forbes Hip-Hop Cash Kings" list) to unravel the business acumen Jay-Z has used to catapult himself to financial prosperity." -Mog.com "To learn more about how Jay-Z changed many people's taste in Champagne and so many other things, be sure to check out "Empire State of Mind" ... Until now, all those interested begrudgingly had to buy into the story spun by Jay-Z's camp that Armand de Brignac was just a bubbly that HOVA discovered in a New York wine shop." -"Bottlenotes"" "[Empire State of Mind] ... "fill(s) in many of the blanks surrounding the rapper's business dealings, pulling from interviews with some of Hov's colleagues and business partners willing to dish the dirt on how he rose to fame and fortune." -"The Boombox" "A fascinating, unauthorized story, which decodes the Jay-Z myth as much as it reinforces it."""-"ABCDrDurson"

About the Author

Zack O'Malley Greenburg is a staff writer at Forbes, where he has covered finance and music since 2005. Along the way he's profiled the likes of Akon, 50 Cent and Afrika Bambaataa; his stories have taken him from the casinos of Macau to the diamond mines of Sierra Leone. He has also written for The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, and Dan's Papers. He lives in New York City.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio (March 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591843812
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591843818
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #476,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews
59 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better Than "Decoded." March 20, 2011
Format:Hardcover
With "Empire State of Mind," Zack O'Malley Greenburg delivers on his promise to chronicle Jay-Z's compelling journey from drug-dealer to 9-figure businessman.

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.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Jay-Z doesn't want you to know March 28, 2011
By D Adler
Format:Hardcover
Put simply, this book is a wonderful, engaging profile of a figure worth reading about, and will teach even hip-hop devotees something about Mr. Carter they did not know before.

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.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read even for a layperson March 28, 2011
By Schmecs
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I didn't know much about Jay-Z before I read this book. Once I started reading, though, I couldn't put it down. Greenburg paints such a thorough picture of Jay-Z without once interviewing him, and I would guess that these multiple perspectives provide a better picture of the man than the man himself could (or would want to, it seems). I came away suddenly inspired to start listening - really actually LISTENING, not just passively hearing - Jay-Z's music, because now I realize it has a legitimate and meaningful context. I would imagine that for someone who is already a big fan, this book would be even more engrossing. Jay-Z has had a powerful impact on the hip-hop industry, and he is poised to become a music and business legend.

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?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Jay-Z, what a character! Not the best looking guy, grew up in a slum, and his father abandoned him when he was a kid. But he was smart and wanted to prove to the world that he was somebody, so he developed ambition - a LOT of it. Figured the best way to prove himself was money, so he got into drug dealing for quite a while, rapping on the side. Then rapping eventually seemed more lucrative (and safe) than drug dealing, so that became his focus, though his 'rap' was largely bragging about his success, to continue inflating his image. With serious money (capital) starting to accumulate, his focus turned to making it grow, so he progressively branched out into all sorts of business ventures, mostly associated with the pop/hiphop culture he knows best, and using/discarding business associates as necessary - not always a nice and honest guy. And some of these ventures even flopped (he doesn't want you to know that), but most didn't, and some generated crazy high returns. He even picked up a trophy wife along the way - the genuinely amazing Beyonce - both of them clearly leveraging the relationship for business purposes, though maybe he loves her too (who am I to say otherwise?). Today, he sits on an 'empire' worth maybe half a billion dollars, so what does he want next? Probably to at least get to a billion, because this is a guy for whom it seems no amount is too much or even enough, especially when there are people running around worth tens of billions.

This book expands on the story I've just summarized very well, so I recommend it. The author strikes me as being fair and balanced, and did a nice job of piecing things together without being able to interview Jay-Z directly.
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