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Empire state of mind : how Jay-Z went from street corner to corner office
Book
2011
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  Kirkus Review

In his debut, former Forbes reporter Greenburg offers a gossipy, middling Jay-Z bio/business study.According to some calculations from the author, the rapper/entrepreneur is worth a whopping $450 million. The story of how the tongue-twisting lyricist built himself up from a drug dealer to one of the world's most recognizable, respected entertainment hyphenates is inspirational, but it's a well-worn story. The author makes a gallant effort to appeal to both the casual music fan and the hardcore hip-hop listener, but he can't quite pull it off. The story of Jay-Z-as-businessman is better suited to a magazine article, and Greenburg injects far too much filler into the narrative. The author periodically interjects himself into the interviews, and while his writing is solid, his appearance in the pages adds very little to the proceedings. Had he structured the book as a personal quest to find the "real" Jay-Zan intriguing exercise in stunt journalistit could have been special. Readers interested in the Jigga should check out his inventive, stellar autobiography,Decoded (2010). 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.Aside from some dirt-dishing by former colleagues and some specifics about the extent of Jay-Z's fortune, the book doesn't offer anything of substance that can't be found elsewhere.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
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.
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