The problem with writing an unauthorized biography, as Forbes writer Zack O’Malley Greenburg found out during a brief exchange with Jay-Z at his Made in America festival, is that most of the time, the book’s subject ends up hating the way he was portrayed.
Greenburg’s book, “Empire State Of Mind: How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner To Corner Office,” received widespread critical acclaim last year for its indepth look into Jay’s rise from Brooklyn’s Marcy Projects to hip-hop’s most savvy one-man conglomerate. Sports Illustrated even printed an excerpt from the book that centered around Jay-Z’s first attempt to build an All-Star team in Rucker Park. All that is well and good, but what about Hov’s opinion?
Standing 15 feet away from me are Jay-Z, Beyoncé and a whole gaggle of people. And there’s nobody between me and him. I had a few brushes with him, but there was always something — I was, like, well this is my chance. As I did, he turned around and our eyes met. He was walking past me and I say, “Jay, I’m the guy who wrote the book about you. And he kept walking for about ten feet — and I knew he’d heard me, because he was two feet away from me — and as he was about to turn the corner he looked over his shoulder and said, “That book was horrible!”
Classic Jay. That just goes to show you, if you want to write a biography, get the subject involved, get permission or wait until they expire. That’s the only way to avoid getting sonned for your efforts. For his part, though, it seems that Greenburg has learned his lesson. His next book, to be released in book in 2014, will be about Michael Jackson and how his estate is still bringing in record amounts of revenue.