Empire State Of Mind By Zack O’Malley Greenburg
Despite its eponymous subject's refusal to cooperate, Zach O’Malley Greenburg reports on the man behind the business – if the business and the man can be separated at all. In telling his story O’Malley interviewed important figures from Jay-Z’s past to present an investigative saga of Jay-Z’s rise from the projects of Brooklyn (his name is rumored to be a tribute to the J and Z trains) to his swanky Tribeca pent house the reported $34 million dollar annual income and world recognition as one of the biggest names in hip-hop that he now enjoys.
Although Jay-Z would not be interviewed for Empire State of Mind, Zach O’Malley Greenburg’s tenacious reporting reveals Shawn Corey Carter – the name used by those who knew him at every step of his upward climb – to be as business savvy as his lyrics would suggest he is street smart. Throughout this in-depth look, we hear from the DJ who introduced the hip-hop mogul to the music business, learn about Jay-Z’s forgotten mentors, and the successes (and failures) of his never ending entrepreneurial endeavors – crack slinging included. Of course, Beyonce fans have something to savor also as Greenburg covers Jay-Z’s relationship and marriage to the chart-topping female artist, as well.
If one thing is for certain, it is that Jay-Z knows how to make money. Anecdote after anecdote reveals the rapper’s keen eye for spotting a profit. Talent aside, Jay Z’s go-getting, entrepreneurial attitude has helped him create a brand (arguably a lifestyle) with wide-ranging appeal. Greenburg’s instructive narrative analyzes each major business move Jay-Z made to get to the top, revealing just how Jay-Z’s empire was built.
It’s a story told by a talented writer who has quite a bit of hustle himself. Greenburg weaves his impressive in-depth research into an entertaining story that never reads like a collection of hard-sought evidence, though hard-sought the evidence was. Greenburg even goes so far as to journey to France so as to trace any possible potential connections between the rapper and the Armand de Brignac champagne label he so often promotes in his music videos following his split from Cristal (a connection Jay Z has denied)!
It’s a must read for any budding entrepreneur. If you’re interested in branding, hip-hop, or Jay-Z’s metamorphosis from drug dealer to acclaimed lyricist, from mainstream hip-hop champion to seasoned business man, this is book is definitely worth its hardback price. If not just for it’s street cred-enhancing abilities.
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