Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner to Corner Office, by Zack O'Malley Greenburg (Penguin/Portfolio)

“One of the year’s best rock books.” –Bloomberg | “Fascinating well-done biography of one of the most extraordinary entrepreneurs of our era.” –Steve Forbes | "Lively and often...

JAY-Z BOOK: Empire State of Mind

Jay-Z Book Excerpt In Sports Illustrated

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 about Jay-Z. We’ve spent the past twenty minutes cheerfully swapping generalities, but when I ask for specifics, the pauses grow longer, his brow becomes furrowed.

“Can you tell me some kind of anecdote that shows how Jay-Z thinks?” I press. “Any moment that stands out in your mind?”

“Let me think,” he says, munching his Caesar salad.

“So . . .” I continue, stalling. “I’m trying to, you know, get . . . inside his brain.”


“I like the way they hooked this salad up,” he mutters.

Then he blinks a long blink, as though clenching his eyelids longer will dull the regret of whatever he’s about to tell me. He opens his eyes.

“I believe it was the summer of 2003 . . .”

The scene was Holcombe Rucker Playground, a hallowed slab of asphalt wedged between the Harlem River and Frederick Douglass Boulevard in upper Manhattan. Jay-Z’s task: to assemble a team to play and win the Entertainers Basketball Classic (EBC), a tournament that offered no prize money, no gilded trophy, just victory, a muse if ever Jay-Z had one.

Read the full excerpt on the Sports Illustrated website.

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One Response to Jay-Z Book Excerpt In Sports Illustrated

  1. phymnaveamy says:

    Hello! Just want to say thank you for this interesting article! =) Peace, Joy.

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