Run This Industry Tonight

Forbes staffer Zack O’Malley Greenburg seems to have been surprised that Jay-Z wouldn’t cooperate with his book on the hip hop mogul’s personal industry, Empire State of Mind (Portfolio). Studying how the talented rapper got so rich—he is personally worth something like half a billion dollars—should have told Greenburg that his subject had nothing to gain from cooperating, and thus wouldn’t.

Jay-Z has admitted to watering down his artistry to sell records, and he makes sure he is well-compensated for linking his personal brand with any product. He has conquered music, clothing, drinks, books, and nightclubs. President Obama calls him to feel out the American street. In a classic American tale of cultural openness to the skilled outsider, he rose to these heights from disreputable roots: street cocaine slinging and, for that matter, rap itself.

Greenburg explains how flourishing entertainers sell more than just art. As Jay-Z rapped, “I’m not a businessman—I’m a business, man.” —Brian Doherty

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  • ||

    heh, rap as "disreputable roots." 'nilla-tarians to the max.

  • cynical||

    You don't think that society, broadly, still considers rap disreputable? Or, at the very least, that it did when Jay-Z was getting his start?

  • ||

    Sure. Society, broadly, considers rap disreputable. Since when did Reason peddle the same lazy and condescending characterizations as broader society?

  • Rap||

    Please don't stop considering me disreputable. As an artistic enterprise, I gave out what little I had long ago, and a phony veneer of disrepute is all that remains to keep me alluring to the young.

  • nike dunk||

    is good

  • goallen||

    ty rights, etc. seem like a more accurate measure of freedom than democracy.

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