Empire State of Mind: How Jay Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office, Revised Edition

Empire State of Mind: How Jay Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office, Revised Edition

Zack O'Malley Greenburg

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 1591848342

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


"I’m not a businessman—I’m a business, man." —Jay Z

As much as Martha Stewart or Oprah—and perhaps more than any musician—Jay Z has turned himself into a lifestyle. You can wake up to the local radio station playing his newest hit, spritz yourself with his latest cologne, slip on a pair of his Rocawear jeans, lace up your Reebok S. Carter sneakers, watch baseball star Robinson Cano smack a couple of hits in an afternoon game, and grab dinner at The Spotted Pig. On the way to Jay Z’s 40/40 Club for a D’Ussé cognac nightcap, sign up for streaming service Tidal and hear his latest collaboration with Beyoncé. He’ll profit at every turn of your day.

Empire State of Mind reveals the story behind Jay Z’s rise as told by the people who lived it with him, from classmates at Brooklyn’s George Westinghouse High School and the childhood friend who got him into the drug trade, to the DJ who persuaded him to stop dealing and focus on the music. Now with new interviews with industry insiders like Russell Simmons, Alicia Keys, and J. Cole—more than one hundred in total—this book explains just how Jay Z propelled himself from the bleak streets of Brooklyn to the heights of the business world.

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The two would prove to have even more in common beyond 2003, from retiring and un-retiring to leaving their original careers with the aim of becoming serious businessmen. But in the summer of 2003, as Jay-Z’s fame reached new heights, he would make the most Jordanesque gesture of his career. 4 Jay-Z’s First Basketball Team Over lunch on a damp autumn day in Harlem, hip-hop pioneer Fred “Fab 5 Freddy” Brathwaite seems mired in an internal debate. He’s deciding whether to tell me something

what it lacked in sales. The album earned four stars out of four from USA Today, which applauded the Roots for exhibiting “a ferocity they haven’t displayed in years”;15 positive reviews also flowed in from Rolling Stone and the Village Voice, the latter of which specifically praised Jay-Z for not making the Roots “go commercial.”16 Jay-Z had other artists to lean on for raw sales, and by the end of his first summer as Def Jam’s chief, those numbers started to show. Kanye West and Young Jeezy

might owe me a favor, when Kingdom Come.”23 Despite decent commercial success and his own blustering bravado, Jay-Z’s new album earned him some of the roughest reviews of his career, not to mention a few barbs about his age. “We never thought Jay would be flashing AARP brochures in our faces and dropping Gwyneth Paltrow’s name in a rap song,” raged Pitchfork’s Peter Macia in a review. “But that’s Kingdom Come: Jay boringly rapping about boring stuff and being totally comfortable with it.”24

their personal impressions of Jay-Z, and to Damien McCaffery for a very helpful last-minute read. A big thank-you for unwavering support from old friends: Ryan Victor, Sam Moss, Luke Silver-Greenberg, Morgan Silver-Greenberg, Madeline Kerner, Kelly Reid, and Corey Taylor; slightly newer: Dan Adler, Jon Bittner, Rebecca Blum, Katie Manning, Dan Hammond, Lara Berlin, and Marcus Leonard; newest: the Mount Sinai Class of 2013. Special thanks to Melissa Ocana and Ezra Markowitz, who repeatedly called

wouldn’t be where he is today were it not for his remarkable abilities as a rhymester and wordsmith. Most hip-hop buffs place him in rap’s pantheon, alongside the likes of Rakim, KRS-One, Tupac Shakur, and the Notorious B.I.G. Jay-Z’s first album, Reasonable Doubt, packs a life’s worth of lyrics into a single disc, backed by beats thick with soul and jazz. Though his first album is still considered one of hip-hop’s greatest, he garnered criticism for heading in a pop-oriented direction in

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