EMPIRE STATE OF MIND by Zack O'Malley Greenburg


How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office
Email this 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-Z—an intriguing exercise in stunt journalist—it 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.

Pub Date: March 17th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59184-381-8
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Portfolio
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2011


Nonfiction3 KINGS by Zack O'Malley Greenburg
by Zack O'Malley Greenburg
NonfictionMICHAEL JACKSON, INC. by Zack O'Malley Greenburg
by Zack O'Malley Greenburg