Author and journalist Zack O’Malley Greenburg made headlines last year with his unofficial biography of Jay-Z, titled Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner To Corner Office. Now, in a recent interview with Black Enterprise, Greenburg recalls Hov’s reaction to the book.
Greenburg explained that he bumped into Jay-Z while working a media event during “Made in America” and told Jay that he had written Empire State of Mind. Much to Greenburg’s surprise, Jay broke his usual reserve and told him that his book was “horrible.”
“I was doing work in the media tent [for ‘Made in America’] doing interviews. It was the afternoon of the last day and I took a break and went to the porta-potties,” he recalled. “The way it was situated, it was the same one on the border of the VIP area and the media area. So you couldn’t go from the media tent to the VIP area…so I walk out of the porta-potty and standing 15 feet away from me are Jay-Z, Beyonce 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!'”
He added, “I didn’t really care what he was going to say, I was just curious to see what he was going to say. What the interaction told me was that obviously he’d read the book, but more importantly that it had gotten to him on some level, because that was not the typical Jay-Z reaction would be to ignore me…Jay-Z’s typical reaction to things out of his control is to completely ignore them. The fact that he kind of broke character and made kind of an off-handed remark that was not particularly well thought out or incisive suggests to me that it got to him in some way.”