For Christmas I got Zack O’Malley-Greenburgs Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office. It’s a look into Jay-Z the business man not Jay-Z the rapper. It’s a good idea because if there’s one thing Jay is known for besides his extraordinary rhyming ability it’s his business savvy. The book isn’t a bio, Jay doesn’t have anything to do with it. Which is surprising because after reading the book it seems like something he would have had his hand in. It’s more like a study, a look into how Jay learned to get where he is now.

The book contains interviews with people close to Jay-Z from his 1st business partner DeHaven, former mentor turned enemy Jaz-O, His former Roc-A-Fella Records business partner Damon Dash and many more. They all tell stories about Jay and what drives him and you get an idea about where he came from. The funny thing about those three they don’t have any hate towards him. Well maybe Jaz but DeHaven and Dame it didn’t seem that way. They could have used the book to bash Jay-Z but they don’t. Or it could be O’Malley-Greenburg left out any bad stuff. The book also uses various Jay-Z lyrics and Jay-Z quotes throughout the book. I guess since he couldn’t get Hov it’s the next best thing. That was the only thing I found annoying, since I have most of the magazine articles where the quotes where pulled from. Either way they helped paint a picture of a guy with a keen business sense and someone who knew the power of their product.

Some stories that stuck out to me were Jay-Z’s early rhyming and crack selling days, I learned some new info there about how he toured with Big Daddy Kane at 18 for no pay. He was still dealing drugs then and giving money to his mom saying it was show money. What I thought was funny that part wasn’t covered in Jay’s own book Decoded. My three favorite stories and probably the most revealing came from Jay-Z’s EBC Basketball team, the aborted Jay-Z jeep and the truth about Ace of Spades Champagne. Those three chapters alone are good reads and I’ve never read or heard those stories before.

The entire book is a good read. If you’re like me a huge fan of Jay-Z go pick it up you will in enjoy it. It shows another side of Jay that we rarely hear about. The book covers his time at Def Jam, Beyonce, his deal with Live Nation. For those who think Jay-Z isn’t looking out J. Cole think again, the book covers that. Thinking about it, it’s a good thing Jay wasn’t involved with the making of this book. It could have been a giant puff piece to make him look larger than life but the book does show his failures and successes. Zach O’Malley-Greenburg wrote a great piece on one of Hip Hops greatest business man business.


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