Jay-Z announced the first rappers to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, during the induction ceremony. Now he comes full circle, being inducted himself this year. However, Jay-Z’s induction is not without controversy. Even though other rappers have been inducted since 2007, like Run-DMC, N.W.A, Tupac Shakur, and the Notorious B.I.G. last year, there are some who still question whether rap artists “belong” in the hall of fame dedicated to “rock and roll.” Others think the hall of fame should just get a rebranding.
Something I hope we can all agree on is the fact that “99 Problems” is one of Jay-Z’s masterpieces, managing to be both flippant with a hook and serious while recounting his experiences of driving while black. The song has stuck around long after its debut in 2004. Jay-Z has updated the lyrics in two election cycles to be political: in 2009, he had 99 problems but a Bush wasn’t one and in 2012 a Mitt wasn’t one. He has used the song to cross over into other fan bases, jamming to this song with Phish and Pearl Jam.
The song has inspired covers and mashups that genre-bend, and here we’ll find other covers in the same spirit of those innovative covers.