Being the Alpha male I am, there I was pumping iron at the gym on Monday working on my quads*, making sure all the other guys who were there knew I was top dog, just like I had to when I was doing a stretch in Leavenworth, when Jay-Z 99 Problems popped up on my pod. I just love that track, the beat, masterminded by one Mr R Rubin is sheer genius, simultaneously managing to sound like 1987 and the future by sampling Billy Squier’s mighty ‘The Big Beat’ and Mountain’s ‘Long Red’ and the hook from Ice-T’s ’99 Problems’. I’m not a fan of Jay-Z at all in general, but I think his lyrics and delivery on this is just superb**.
As something of a multi-media sensation myself I can really relate to the first verse about having mags and radio stations exploiting your image to boost their ad sales, but it’s the second verse that really hits home, about being stopped by the cops for being black, especially when he starts giving it back:
I ain’t stepping out of shit all my papers legit
“Do you mind if I look round the car a little bit?”
Well my glove compartment is locked so is the trunk and the back
And I know my rights so you gon’ need a warrant for that
“Aren’t you sharp as a tack are some type of lawyer or something?”
“Or somebody important or something?”
Nah I ain’t passed the bar but I know a little bit
Enough that you won’t illegally search my shit
“Well see how smart you are when the K-9’s come”
I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one
Actually it’s a great track but 99 Problems contains some really shit legal advice, you don’t believe me – next time you get hassled by the man try insisting on those particular rights … you can use your one call at the station to thank me, or Jay-Z – I’m probably easier to get hold of during the day to be honest.
The bit I always shout out, once aloud on the station to my chagrin, is the line ‘half a mill for bail because I’m African!’. I’m not, in fact I’m downright pale and pasty looking – the only way I’d be African is in the sense of being an unpleasant Colonial ruler, in which case I probably wouldn’t be proclaiming the fact loudly on Moorfields station platform in the morning.
But I’m telling you all this to distract myself from the tragedy that befell me tonight. I picked out my trusty copy of 99 Problems tonight, the one I bought on 7 June 2004 put the needle on it and .. it skipped badly. I cleaned it off and it skipped badly again. I checked the stylus and it skipped badly again. There’s nothing visible on it but the blighter won’t play. When did I last play it? you know what, I’m not sure I EVER have – I already had it on MP3 by the time I bought it. That makes me feel like a glutton.
F-ing records! What a stupid, fragile illogical way to collect music.
Ah well, enjoy these photos. If it wasn’t so cold and wet out I’d send 99 Problems on its way to hip-hop Valhalla with a Viking funeral – sadly the local tip will have to do^. Damn. Ah well the good news is that I won’t have to rename my blog 1536, since I have bought a record since I started it.
If you having girl problems I feel bad for you son
I got 1537 problems but a skip ain’t one
*I’m 30% sure, without Googling it, that’s shoulders; maybe 25%.
**To prove a point the B-side is pimp fixated nonsense bollocks and what’s with putting clean and explicit versions of tracks on a 12″? Is that so you don’t have to change your listening substantially when Aunt Mabel and Pastor Honeycott come for tea?! Arse.
^I’ll recycle the sleeve obvs. I know, I know, my life is permanently like being on the road with the Crüe in 1987.