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Zack O'Malley Greenburg (ZOG) pioneered Forbes magazine's hip hop coverage and launched its "Cash Kings List." The author of four books (soon to be five), he now covers the intersection of music, media & money at Substack. He chats with Tony Chapman about his evolving writing journey.

For much of his life, Zack O’Malley Greenburg tried to avoid becoming a writer, after witnessing the financial and emotional ups and downs his writer-parents experienced. But he was always drawn to it, working at the school paper in college and interning at Forbes magazine, where he wound up working for decades.



In this episode of Chatter That Matters, Zack describes how he landed his first job at Forbes and how he landed his big break when an editor asked him to help put together a list of the top-earning rappers of all time.

Zack went on to launch the Cash Kings List, an annual ranking of hip hop’s top earners. He chats about the artists who would try to talk their way up the list — as well as the ones who wanted to be left off — and the prestige that came to those who made it to the top.

Over his time at Forbes, Zack transitioned to writing books and he and Tony discuss his four deeply reported stories of people behind their celebrity personas, including the Jay-Z biography Empire State of Mind (re-released in 2021), 3 Kings: Diddy, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, And Hip-Hop’s Multibillion-Dollar Rise, Michael Jackson, Inc. and A-List Angels: How a Band of Actors, Artists and Athletes Hacked Silicon Valley.

Today, Zack writes a newsletter on Substack —an online platform that offers independent writers the freedom to write about what they want, unencumbered by editors. With Chapman, he talks about the importance of having ownership over his work and the benefit of having a direct relationship with his audience. Through the platform, he is also serializing his latest book, We Are All Musicians Now.

Offering a glimpse into the lives, lifestyles and motivations of some of the biggest celebrities (alive and dead), Zack also shares advice to listeners who have an urge to find their own path and how to make your side hustle your main gig.

Intelligent, inspiring and disarming, Zack O’Malley Greenburg will capture listeners’ attention with the stories of his favourite subjects, and his own story of creativity, resourcefulness and independence.

Tony Chapman created the Chatter That Matters podcast to counter the storm of negativity and impossibility with true stories of ordinary people who do extraordinary things. He chats with Olympians, Advocates, Celebrities, Leaders, and people who battled what seemed like insurmountable odds.

In doing, listeners hear life lessons that inspire all of us to do more and to be more, to help us get to where we need, want and deserve to go. RBC is the presenting sponsor.

Subscribe to Chatter That Matters wherever you get your podcasts or go here: https://www.chatterthatmatters.ca/podcasts or tune in Fridays at noon to these radio stations:

  • Newstalk 1010, Toronto
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