Song of the Day #4,512: ’99 Problems’ – Jay-Z

Every time I do one of these Decades theme weeks, I highlight a celebrated rap album from the year in question, hoping it will make a big impact despite my aversion to the genre.

For 2003, the lucky record is Jay-Z’s The Black Album. And I’m sorry to report that it fared about as poorly as the rest.

Rap just isn’t my genre, and even Jay-Z’s “farewell” album, widely praised as one of his best, can’t change that.

The one hip-hop artist whose work I consistently enjoy is Eminem, and yes, I realize the cringiness of liking only the most prominent white rapper. And I’ll double down on that by saying the track I like best on The Black Album is ‘Moment of Clarity,’ which was produced by Eminem.

I wanted to feature that song today but Jay-Z is very strict about which of his songs he allows on YouTube. Instead, I’m going with the well-known single ’99 Problems.’

[Chorus]
If you’re havin’ girl problems, I feel bad for you, son
I got 99 problems, but a bitch ain’t one

[Verse 1]
I’ve got the Rap Patrol on the gat patrol
Foes that wanna make sure my casket’s closed
Rap critics that say he’s Money, Cash, Hoes
I’m from the hood, stupid! What type of facts are those?
If you grew up with holes in your zapatos
You’d celebrate the minute you was havin’ dough
I’m like, “Fuck critics, you can kiss my whole asshole!
If you don’t like my lyrics, you can press fast forward.”
Got beef with radio if I don’t play they show
They don’t play my hits, well, I don’t give a shit, so
Rap mags try and use my black ass
So advertisers can give ’em more cash for ads
Fuckers, I don’t know what you take me as
Or understand the intelligence that Jay Z has
I’m from rags to riches, niggas, I ain’t dumb
I got 99 problems, but a bitch ain’t one – hit me!

[Chorus]
99 problems, but a bitch ain’t one
If you’re havin’ girl problems, I feel bad for you, son
I got 99 problems, but a bitch ain’t one – hit me!

[Verse 2]
The year is ’94, in my trunk is raw
In my rearview mirror is the motherfuckin’ law
Got two choices, y’all: pull over the car or
Bounce on the devil, put the pedal to the floor
And I ain’t tryin’ to see no highway chase with Jake
Plus I got a few dollars, I can fight the case
So I pull over to the side of the road
I heard, “Son, do you know why I’m stopping you for?”
‘Cause I’m young and I’m black and my hat’s real low?
Do I look like a mind reader, sir? I don’t know
Am I under arrest or should I guess some more?
“Well, you was doing 55 in a 54
License and registration and step out of the car
Are you carrying a weapon on you? I know a lot of you are.”
I ain’t steppin’ out of shit, all my paper’s legit
“Well, do you mind if I look around the car a little bit?”
Well, my glove compartment is locked, so is the trunk in the back
And I know my rights, so you gon’ need a warrant for that
“Aren’t you sharp as a tack?
You some type of lawyer or something?
Somebody important or something?”
Well, I ain’t passed the bar, but I know a little bit
Enough that you won’t illegally search my shit
“Well, we’ll see how smart you are when the K9 come!”
I got 99 problems, but a bitch ain’t one – hit me!

[Chorus]
99 problems, but a bitch ain’t one
If you’re havin’ girl problems, I feel bad for you, son
I got 99 problems, but a bitch ain’t one – hit me!
99 problems, but a bitch ain’t one
If you’re havin’ girl problems, I feel bad for you, son
I got 99 problems, but a bitch ain’t one

[Verse 3]
Now once upon a time not too long ago
A nigga like myself had to strong-arm a ho
This is not a ho in the sense of havin’ a pussy
But a pussy havin’ no goddamn sense, try and push me
I try to ignore him, talk to the Lord
Pray for him, but some fools just love to perform
You know the type, loud as a motorbike
But wouldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight
And only thing that’s gon’ happen is I’ma get to clappin’
And he and his boys gonna be yappin’ to the Captain
And there I go, trapped in the Kit-Kat again
Back through the system with the riff-raff again
Fiends on the floor, scratchin’ again
Paparazzis with they cameras, snappin’ em
D.A. try to give a nigga shaft again
Half a mil’ for bail ‘cause I’m African
All because this fool was harassin’ them
Tryin’ to play the boy like he’s saccharine
But ain’t nothin’ sweet ’bout how I hold my gun
I got 99 problems, bein’ a bitch ain’t one – hit me!

[Chorus]
99 problems, but a bitch ain’t one
If you’re havin’ girl problems, I feel bad for you, son
I got 99 problems, but a bitch ain’t one – hit me!

[Outro]
You crazy for this one, Rick
It’s your boy

One thought on “Song of the Day #4,512: ’99 Problems’ – Jay-Z

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I guess I’m also a member of your cringe worthy club, as my appreciation of hip hop mostly begins and ends with Eminem.

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