Empire State of Mind by Zack O'Malley Greenburg
How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office

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Synopsis

"I'm not a businessman-I'm a business, man."
--Jay-Z

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But despite Jay-Z's success, there are still many Americans whose impressions of him are foggy, outdated, or downright incorrect.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.


 

About Zack O'Malley Greenburg

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ZACK O'MALLEY GREENBURG covered hip-hop and finance as a staff reporter for Forbes magazine for nearly three years. His stories took him from the back rooms of New York's Apollo Theatre to the jungles of Sierra Leone. He has also written for The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, and Dan's Papers, among others. He lives in New York City.
 
Published March 17, 2011 by Portfolio. 272 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Business & Economics, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Empire State of Mind

Kirkus Reviews

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Though it doesn’t offer the nuts and bolts of how the rapper made the leap from the street corner to the corner office (now there’s a corny subtitle), it provides a potent glimpse of the heart of the man, which isn’t the case here.

| Read Full Review of Empire State of Mind: How Jay...

Publishers Weekly

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Perhaps the book's most interesting moment also illustrates Jay-Z's single-minded determination to succeed: after Greenburg met with Jay-Z's "consigliere," John Meneilly, to discuss the book, Jay-Z "repurposed the memoir he'd scuttled in 2003 and released his book before this one went to press."

Mar 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Empire State of Mind: How Jay...

New York Journal of Books

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Yet we still don’t know: Is he just the nicest guy in the world, as his employees reiterate time and time again, or the most materialistic, almost ruthless, businessman, always focusing on “What’s in it for me?” You might start to draw your own conclusions from one point that pops up repeatedly t...

Mar 17 2011 | Read Full Review of Empire State of Mind: How Jay...

Forbes

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Lady Gaga and Madonna have a superstar rivalry made in gossip-blog heaven. But when it comes to annual earnings, there's a clear winner.

Nov 19 2013 | Read Full Review of Empire State of Mind: How Jay...

Forbes

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The rapper’s previous publishing agreement had long been set to expire this year, giving him plenty of time to plot his next step. But there’s another set of rights headed Jay-Z’s way quite soon.

Feb 20 2013 | Read Full Review of Empire State of Mind: How Jay...

Forbes

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The pact brings all five of hip-hop's wealthiest artists--Diddy, Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Birdman and 50 Cent--and ten of last year's top earners to labels under the Universal umbrella.

Apr 08 2013 | Read Full Review of Empire State of Mind: How Jay...

Forbes

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It’s only a matter of time before Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports branches out beyond baseball. So what happens to the rapper’s stake in the Brooklyn Nets if his company starts representing NBA players?

Apr 03 2013 | Read Full Review of Empire State of Mind: How Jay...

Forbes

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As Jay-Z and I approached each other our eyes met, and his lingered for a split second before drifting away. Then, as I’d always planned, I offered a statement, not a question. “Jay,” I said, as he strode past me, not turning his head, “I’m the guy who wrote the book about you.”

Sep 06 2012 | Read Full Review of Empire State of Mind: How Jay...

Forbes

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FORBES sat down with Davis to discuss his book last week at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. For those of you who haven't had time to read the 608-page tome, we've captured a few of the volume's better anecdotes--including Janis Joplin's attempts to physically consummate her record deal--on v...

Mar 22 2013 | Read Full Review of Empire State of Mind: How Jay...

Forbes

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Jay-Z's album just leaked. It won't hit record stores for another three days, and already, at this very moment, it's being played to a million users around the internet, for free. Within a hour or two, it'll be uploaded to just about every illegal file-sharing site on the web. But for Jay-Z, this...

Jul 04 2013 | Read Full Review of Empire State of Mind: How Jay...

Business Week

When he tried to strike a deal with Chrysler to offer a special Jay-Z Jeep gussied up in a color known as Jay-Z Blue, the carmaker balked.

Mar 24 2011 | Read Full Review of Empire State of Mind: How Jay...

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