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

About the Author

Photo by Fred Brathwaite

ZACK O’MALLEY GREENBURG is a senior editor at Forbes, where he covers the business of music & entertainment in his column, The Beat Report. His first book, a Jay-Z biography called Empire State of Mindwas published by Penguin’s Portfolio imprint in 2011. He’s currently working on his second book, a business-focused biography of Michael Jackson, for Simon & Schuster.

Zack has been writing professionally since the age of 14, when he landed a gig reviewing video games for Boys’ Life magazine. A former child actor, he played the title role in the film Lorenzo’s Oilalongside Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon. He retired early to pursue his dream of winning a middle school intramural baseball championship before starting his writing career.

Zack’s first taste of the music business came at Yale, where he majored in American Studies with a concentration Urban Studies. When he wasn’t busy booking gigs and singing for pop/rock a cappella group Out of the Blue, he profiled artists ranging fromGunther to the Goo Goo Dolls for the Yale Daily News. During his sophomore year, he saw a flyer for an internship at Forbes posted in the newspaper’s offices; he joined the magazine that summer and continued to freelance as a student at Yale.

Two weeks after graduation, Zack joined Forbes as a full-time reporter and has since written over 500 articles for ForbesForbes Asia and Forbes.com. His stories on music, business, travel and sports have taken him from the back rooms of New York’s Apollo Theater to the rail yards of Omaha to the diamond mines of Sierra Leone–and, most terrifying of all, the bleachers of Fenway Park.

Along the way, Zack has interviewed luminaries from all walks of life–including Bruno MarsAlicia Keys50 CentAkonRussell SimmonsSteve WozniakJustin BieberTimbalandAfrika BambaataaMac Miller,Richard BransonT.I.Wiz KhalifaDr. RuthSwizz BeatzLil JonFab 5 FreddyMr. TSkrillexLudacris andBill Gates (sort of) – as well as a host of non-famous mutual fund managersmusiciansCEOsbillionairesand a convicted murderer (though nobody who could be described as all of the above). He also helped arrange a ukulele duet between Jon Bon Jovi and Warren Buffett.

Zack’s first book, a unauthorized, business-focused biography of Jay-Z titled Empire State of Mind, was published by Penguin/Portfolio in March 2011 and is now on its third printing (more info on the book here). Though Jay-Z told Zack that the book was “horrible,” a lot of other people seem to have liked it–including hip-hop pioneer Fab Five Freddy, rap historians Dan Charnas and Jeff Chang, and Zack’s boss’s boss’s boss,Steve Forbes, who wrote the foreword to the book’s paperback editionEmpire State of Mind also received received high marks from media outlets including the Financial TimesCNNthe New York Times and Bloomberg News, which called it “one of the year’s best rock books.”

Aside from the book and Forbes, Zack has written for The Washington PostSports IllustratedVibe,McSweeney’s Internet TendencyAOL/Huffington Post and others. He has also served as an expert source for BBCBloombergCNBCReutersMTVEntertainment TonightGood Day New York and other print, web, radio and video outlets. Zack has appeared as a guest speaker at Yale College, Harvard Business School, Howard University, Berklee College of Music, Year Up Boston and Georgetown University.

To inquire about Zack’s availability, see the contact page. Also, follow him on Twitter.

Zack reveals how he first started writing about music for Forbes:

2 Responses to About the Author

  1. Edward says:

    His “come-up” story kind compares to his Jay-Z book but without all the dramatics. But Zack is definitely someone I have my eye on. His articles for Forbes has made me actually sign up to the website. Any accolades this young man gets is well deserved. He has so much potential and is on his way to being well renowned. I will definitely be in line to get that Jay-Z book. I enjoy his intellectual views and opinions. They are very similar to mine & I appreciate when he writes for people like myself. Keep it up Zack!

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