Cover art by Fab 5 Freddy
Being successful musicians was simply never enough for the three kings of hip-hop. Diddy, Dr. Dre, and Jay-Z lifted themselves from childhood adversity into tycoon territory, amassing levels of fame and wealth that not only outshone all other contemporary hip-hop artists, but with a combined net worth of well over $2 billion made them the three richest American musicians, period. Yet their fortunes have little to do with selling their own albums: between Diddy's Ciroc vodka, Dre's $3 billion sale of his Beats headphones to Apple, and Jay-Z's Tidal streaming service and other assets, these artists have transcended pop music fame to become lifestyle icons and moguls.
Hip-hop is no longer just a musical genre; it's become a way of life that encompasses fashion, film, food, drink, sports, electronics and more--one that has opened new paths to profit and to critical and commercial acclaim. Thanks in large part to the Three Kings--who all started their own record labels and released classic albums before moving on to become multifaceted businessmen-hip-hop has been transformed from a genre spawned in poverty into a truly global multibillion-dollar industry.
These men are the modern embodiment of the American Dream, but their stories as great thinkers and entrepreneurs have yet to be told in full. Based on a decade of reporting, and interviews with more than 100 sources including hip-hop pioneers Lovebug Starski and Fab 5 Freddy; new-breed executives like former Def Jam chief Kevin Liles and venture capitalist Troy Carter; and stars from Swizz Beatz to Shaquille O'Neal, 3 Kings (Little, Brown, 2018) tells the fascinating story of the rise and rise of the three most influential musicians in America.
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK
“A definitive, absorbing history of hip-hop and its three mega-giants that reads better than an adventure novel and provides highly useful entrepreneurial lessons for anyone who wants to achieve success.” —Steve Forbes
"3 Kings will inspire hip-hop newcomers and deepen the appreciation of aficionados, while explaining how one of the most significant cultural forces of the past half-century took its place on the world stage." —Arianna Huffington
"I’ve been blessed to work with Diddy, Jay-Z and Dr. Dre, and let me be honest: 3 Kings gives you the major keys to how the biggest bosses on the planet keep winning." —DJ Khaled
"This book offers a pleasingly broad perspective of hip-hop as economic triumph." —Kirkus Reviews
“If Jay-Z, Diddy, and Dr. Dre are shrouded in mystery and inclined towards self-mythologizing, Greenburg does one of the most difficult things a reporter can do: he artfully chronicles their ascent, carefully accounts for their fortunes, and renders these moguls as actual flesh and blood mortals. It reaffirms his bonafides as the preeminent journalist covering the business of hip-hop.” —Jeff Weiss, author of 2pac vs. Biggie: An Illustrated History of Rap’s Greatest Battle
“Greenburg’s narrative traces how the titular kings’ trajectories transformed a music genre into a global juggernaut that’s equal parts industry, culture, and movement. There are copious lessons here in bringing ferocious energy to a concept — and honing that concept for the masses—that will serve would-be moguls in any arena.” —Kathryn Dill, Careers Editor, CNBC
“3 Kings sets the stage of information and inspiration for those who want to follow their dreams. Greenburg takes the lives of the moguls and shows anything is possible through hard work, talent, determination, and a li’l ‘street biz’ savvy.” —Datwon Thomas, Editor-In-Chief, Vibe
“Greenburg reveals a blueprint for how billions were made by and for the artists themselves. An excellent read and a valuable education for entrepreneurs, industry insiders and outsiders, and music aficionados. . . . A uniquely American story of entrepreneurship.” —Josh Davis, author of Two Awesome Hours: Science-Based Strategies to Harness Your Best Time and Get Your Most Important Work Done
“Millions of words have been written about these titans and their empires, but precious few have been written by business reporters who examine how they actually got where they are. Greenburg brings a business perspective along with just enough context and history so that this book can be appreciated and understood by both hip-hop heads and the financial world.” —Jem Aswad, Senior Music Editor, Variety
“A vividly clear depiction of the commercial empires built by Diddy, Jay-Z, and Dr Dre. The book documents their humble beginnings and their rise to fame, and illustrates their important connections to the pioneers who paved the way for their success.” —Rocky Bucano, president of the Universal Hip Hop Museum
“Finance is a central focus in hip-hop, but few writers have the facts and figures to discuss it credibly. Greenburg demystifies three iconic rap artists who these days make most of their money apart from rap. It’s a well-constructed analysis that you don’t need to be an expert to appreciate.” —Ben Westhoff, author of Original Gangstas: The Untold Story of Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, and the Birth of West Coast Rap
“A veteran music journalist who can successfully draw parallels between street-art culture and multimillion-dollar corporate mergers, Greenburg is the perfect person to take us on a journey through the ascent of hip-hop’s greats. He’s able to reveal previously hidden sides of rap’s ‘cash kings’ through deep sourcing, in-depth research, and a true love of and respect for the genre. I came away with a new understanding of hip-hop’s trajectory and the significance it bears for general cultural history.” —Hana Alberts, features editor, New York Post
“Plain and simple: I’m just a diehard fan.” —Kevin Olusola, Grammy-winning member of Pentatonix