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"99 Problems"
The Black Album
Roc-A-Fella / Def Jam

"I got 99 problems, but a bitch ain't one." So goes the refrain of Jay-Z's "99 Problems." I'd imagine that most people find, especially women, find the use of "bitch" here to be offensive, chauvinistic, and misogynistic. I suppose the gut reaction to that refrain would be exactly that. Actually, the refrain originally come from Ice-T's song of the same name. If you thought Jay-Z was bad, I dare you to take a listen to Ice-T's. Go ahead, I dare you!

Considering the context of the lyrics, I am of the mind that among the myriad of problems Jigga has, a bitch truly isn't one of them. The intro goes, "If you're havin' girl problems I feel bad for you son / I got 99 problems but a bitch ain't one." What I take from that is that Hova's girl isn't a problem, nor is she a bitch. And since she isn't a bitch, she isn't a problem. Finally, "If you don't like my lyrics, you can press fast forward."

And, lighten up, Phish covered it with Jay-Z on the mic at a Brooklyn concert. And they did "Big Pimpin'"! If Phish covering your song and inviting you to sing it on stage with them isn't a validation of your artistic cred, then I don't know what is.

Just for yucks, here's the Online Etymological Dictionary's entry on "bitch":

O.E. bicce, probably from O.N. bikkjuna "female of the dog" (also fox, wolf, and occasionally other beasts), of unknown origin. Grimm derives the Old Norse word from Lapp pittja, but OED notes that "the converse is equally possible." As a term of contempt applied to women, it dates from c.1400; of a man, c.1500, playfully, in the sense of "dog." In modern (1990s, originally black English) slang, its use with ref. to a man is sexually contemptuous, from the "woman" insult.

"BITCH. A she dog, or doggess; the most offensive appellation that can be given to an English woman, even more provoking than that of whore." ["Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1811]

Wow, "...even more provoking than that of whore." Very interesting indeed.

The Bell Score: 3.87001

Roc-A-Fella Artist
Allmusic ((( Jay-Z > Overview )))
Allmusic (((The Black Album > Overview )))
Jay-Z - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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