Back in 2003, you couldn’t help but crack a smile when Jay Z’s “99 Problems” off the Brooklyn boy’s beloved Black Album bumped through your spealers. Who would’ve ever thought that the mastermind behind the hook for the smash hit was none other than comedian, Chris Rock?
Ice’s original version focused more on his perfect pimping practices, while Jay’s version would flip the script.
“The Ice-T song is about ‘got 99 problems and a bitch ain’t one,’ and then it’s a list of him talking about his girls and what a great pimp he is. And our idea was to use that same hook concept, and instead of it being about the girls that are not his problem, instead of being a bragging song, it’s more about the problems. Like, this is about the other side of that story,” said Rubin.
Rubin also admitted he never really listened to Hov before the two worked together. “I don’t listen to very much hip-hop. But I really liked Jay. He has a great spirit,” he said. “It was really fun. He was incredibly inspiring as a lyricist. We worked on a lot of ideas, and then he honed in on the track that felt most exciting to him.”