Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office

Zack O'Malley Greenburg, Author
Zack O'Malley Greenburg. Penguin/Portfolio, $25.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-59184-381-8
Reviewed on: 03/21/2011
Release date: 03/01/2011
Paperback - 260 pages - 978-1-59184-540-9
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Forbes staffer Greenburg's first book is a fond look at a successful idol; in fact, the author thanks "Jay-Z for living a life worthy of chronicling." Celebrity enchantment aside, this effort offers little new information. Though it's not for a lack of trying; Greenburg is an enthusiastic researcher but admits to having requests to interview Jay-Z himself declined. Thus, only a few first person interviews—rambling anecdotes at that—have made the cut. Perhaps this obvious omission resulted in Greenburg's unfortunate decision to analyze the mogul's behavior. The chapter devoted to Beyonce reads like a compilation of People magazine articles: "raised a devout Methodist...in an upper-middle-class neighborhood in Houston, Texas." When their six-year relationship was formalized by marriage, Beyonce wore a "$5 million Lorraine Schwartz ring." Perhaps the book's most interesting moment also illustrates Jay-Z's single-minded determination to succeed: after Greenburg met with Jay-Z's "consigliere," John Meneilly, to discuss the book, Jay-Z "repurposed the memoir he'd scuttled in 2003 and released his book before this one went to press." (Mar.)
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