3 Kings

Three Kings: Dr. Dre, Jay Z and Diddy, as rendered by the artist Borbay.

Zack’s latest book, THREE KINGS–a history of the business of hip-hop told through the lens of its three most successful mogul-artists (Dr. Dre, Jay Z and Diddy)–will be published in 2017 by Little, Brown. The news was first reported by Entertainment Weekly.

The book sets out to achieve three main goals: serving as a biography of Diddy, Dre and Jay Z; offering a history of the business of hip-hop that’s exhaustive yet not exhausting; and delineating each mogul’s unique blueprint for success, something that should be of interest to any aspiring entrepreneur or professional. Through interviews with some of the biggest names in hip-hop–on the music side, the business side and both–the journeys of these multifaceted moguls will be told together for the first time.

For over a decade, Zack has been covering the business of hip-hop for Forbes–charting the wealth of Diddy, Dre and Jay Z, who tend to rank 1-2-3 in varying order (the trio was also painted as royalty in the Kings of Hip-Hop series pictured above by Michael Jackson, Inc. cover artist Borbay). Zack first launched the three kings concept as a TEDx talk in late 2014 — but it wasn’t until he picked up a copy of Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators a year later that he realized he had a book on his hands.

Technology has Steve Job, Bill Gates and Larry Page. Hip-hop has Diddy, Dr. Dre and Jay Z. And just as Isaacson went from writing a biography of Jobs to doing a great minds narrative, it occurred to Zack that he could bounce from his Jay Z book to a tome on this triumvirate of rap. Fortunately, the folks at Little, Brown agreed. The book’s editor, John Parsley, has experience with legendary entrepreneurs: he worked on Brad Stone’s excellent Jeff Bezos biography, The Everything Store. Of course, just like tech, hip-hop has more than three giants: for every Ada Lovelace or Alan Turing, there is a DJ Hollywood or Kurtis Blow. Zack’s narrative will incorporate that reality.

Follow Zack on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram–and subscribe to his email updates–for all the latest on the book.

Zack’s keynote interview with Diddy at SXSW 2014


Zack O'Malley Greenburg is the senior editor of media & entertainment at Forbes and author of two books: Michael Jackson, Inc and the Jay Z biography Empire State of Mind. In a decade at Forbes, Zack has investigated topics from pension fund scandals to Katy Perry's touring business to Wu-Tang Clan's secret album. His work has also appeared in the Washington Post, Billboard, Sports Illustrated, McSweeney's and Vibe; he's served as an expert source for BBC, NPR, MTV, NY Times and 60 Minutes, and as a speaker at SXSW, TEDx, Georgetown, Harvard and Yale, his alma mater. A recovering child actor, he played the title role in film Lorenzo's Oil (1992). Zack is now writing a new book, THREE KINGS, which will be published in 2017 by Little, Brown. Get Zack's quarterly email updates | Full bio

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Speaking Engagements

Zack is available for speaking engagements related to music, business and media, as well as his books, Empire State of Mind and Michael Jackson, Inc. To inquire about his availability, please click here.


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