Legendary MC, Ice-T recently revealed that the icon Jay-Z approached him at the 2023 Grammy Awards and questioned him about some internet beef over his song “99 Problems.”
Arguably one of Jay’s biggest hits, at the top 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 and going double platinum—the track’s iconic hook (“I got 99 problems, but a bitch ain’t one”) was actually borrowed from Ice-T’s 1993 original of the same name.
The correlation between the two songs came back into focus last November when a video of the gangsta rap pioneer expressing his grief at JAY-Z apparently never acknowledging the source material resurfaced.
“I’m at the Grammys and JAY-Z comes to me. He says, ‘Ice, you know I love you, right?’” Ice-T said during a visit to Big Boy’s Neighborhood. “I say, ‘Yeah!’ He says, ‘Well, it’s on the internet that you mad.’ I said, ‘I’m not mad! They’re bringing up all kinds of interviews about it and they asked me the story, and I told them the true story.’
“He goes, ‘Yeah man, but it’s no hard feelings.’ And he started talking about how me and him — ’cause I met JAY-Z way back in the day. Big Daddy Kane brought JAY-Z to my house back in the day when he was starting out. I used to take Jay around, roll my car, him and Dame Dash, so we’re friends.”
He added: “But I said, ‘Yo, well, you know, when you did ’99 Problems,’ at the end of the record you could’ve said, ‘Ice!’ You could’ve given me a little dap or something!’ I said, ‘But I’m not mad at it. What had happened was people wanted to know the story.’”
Ice-T then proceeded to tell the story behind “99 Problems,” explaining how 2 Live Crew’s Brother Marquis — who appears on his 1993 track — coined the phrase, before Chris Rock suggested JAY-Z remake the song more than a decade later.
“I’m in my house with Brother Marquis, I’m at my studio,” he began. “We were talking about ‘Whoomp! (There It Is).’ Now, ‘Whoomp! (There It Is)’ comes from Magic City. The Tag Team were the DJs at Magic City, and when the girls would bend over, they’d say, ‘Whoomp, there it is!’
“So Marquis says to me, ‘N-gga, I’m sitting there all them nights in Magic City, that was the phrase that pays!’ Then outta nowhere, he goes, ‘Man, I got 99 problems and a bitch ain’t one.’ I said, ‘What did you just say?’ I said, ‘That’s a song!’”
He continued: “Now, as the legend goes, Rick Rubin and Jay were getting ready to make a record and Chris Rock was around, and they said, ‘What record should we remake?’ And Chris Rock brought up ’99 Problems.’ JAY-Z remade the song, he changed the verses, but he even took the ‘hit me!’ So he did it. No harm, no foul.”
“It was a publishing deal. At that time, my publishing was owned, I think, by Warner Chappell or Universal. It paid, I had a deal and that was it,” he said. “I didn’t come out saying, ‘Oh, JAY-Z went after’ — this, that. But now we’re in the social media era and they’re like, ‘Let’s see what we can turn into a beef.’ I got no problems with JAY-Z … Jay didn’t steal it.
“If you listen to The Seventh Deadly Sin, JAY-Z does an intro for me. He’s on there talking, ‘Yo, Ice. What’s up, yo?’ I have no beef with JAY-Z whatsoever, it’s just how it happened … I love JAY-Z. JAY-Z is a very supernatural human being.”
Watch the interview below.