At first glance, a Hip-Hop fan of two decades might overlook a book about the hustle and prosperity of Sean Carter. Having followed Jay-Z’s music and his moves since he entered in the game with Reasonable Doubt in 1996, there’s not much one wouldn’t know about the undisputed heavyweight champion of Hip-Hop. What makes the book, Empire State of Mind great is that it takes the things you know and shines a brighter light on them, while putting the man and his business ventures under a microscope in order to find out those things the majority of fans wouldn’t know. As far as business biography’s go, this is probably one of the best you’ll ever read.
It sure helps that Empire State of Mind is written by a journalist, Zack O’Malley Greenburg, currently a staff writer for Forbes Magazine. Subtitled “How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner to Corner Office,” it is only fitting that a staff writer at Forbes would be the one to dig deep into the business that is Jay-z. And dig deep Greenburg does.
Though the book is unauthorized and Jay-Z refused to take part in it, Greenburg was able to speak to just about anyone else who has been close to the man over his two decades of hustling. From DeHaven Irby, the man who introduced Jay to the streets, to Jaz-O the man who introduced Jay to the beats, Greenburg gets them all to elaborate on the early years of Jay-Z, helping to piece together the thought process and the events that led to the classic album fans would come to know as Reasonable Doubt.
No book about Jay-Z would be complete without comments from DJ Clark Kent and Damon Dash, who also are among several industry heavyweights who offer Jay-Z tidbits.
What’s more impressive is the investigative side of the book that looks into ventures Jay-Z has been able to secure unbeknownst to the naked eye. There is a lot to be learned about the rapper and businessman in the 220 pages (paperback version). As part of the back page synopsis, the book is described to explain “just how Jay-Z propelled himself from the bleak streets of Brooklyn to the heights of the business world,” without a doubt, the book doesn’t disappoint to that end.
Readers will enjoy the read, whether they’re looking for inspiration or to get some more info on their favorite artist. While Jay-Z wasn’t directly involved, Greenburg offers a nice touch by involving several of Jay’s quotes from songs and past interviews. Obviously a fan in his own right, Greenburg backs every statement and assertion with a touch of Jay, just to keep it authentic. For his debut book, Greenburg impresses on all levels, performing at the highest standards.
I’m sure Sean Carter is somewhere impressed.