Jay-Z famously rapped that he’s got a whole heap of problems (99 to be exact) but “a bitch ain’t one.” For a small Australian online retailer, they have 99 problems and most – if not all – of them involve the rapper.
According to documents filed in Victoria’s Federal Court (via The Sydney Morning Herald), Jay-Z is suing Australian books and fashion retailer, The Little Homie, over claims they’re profiting from “using his name” and the lyrics to ’99 Problems.’
This may seem like egregious a cheap money grab from someone who clearly doesn’t need more money (kind of like Kylie Jenner and trying to trademark the phrase “rise and shine”), but this situation is a bit different to, say, Barack Obama referencing the lyrics to ’99 Problems’ as part of a comedy routine.
For those who are unaware, The Little Homie is an Australian online retailer that specialises in selling children’s books and gifts. One of its products is a picture book titled AB to Jay-Z, which was produced after a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2017 and aims to teach kids the alphabet using references to famous rappers and hip-hop artists.
Jay-Z is arguing that AB to Jay-Z is not only profiting off his brand and image, the book also contains “flagrant” copyright infringement of lyrics from ’99 Problems.’ If you look at the back of the book, there’s a phrase that reads “If you’re having alphabet problems I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but my ABCs ain’t one.”
That is a pretty obvious reference to Jay-Z’s song no matter how you spin it but The Little Homie gave it a crack anyway as its website claims “any reference contained in this book to celebrities or public figures and their works does not constitute or imply the endorsement, recommendation or approval of those persons.”
As for why this is coming up now, the court documents claim that Jay-Z’s legal team asked The Little Homie to stop selling the infringing items back in March 2018. However, the online retailer has seemingly ignored the request and Jay-Z’s legal team is arguing that the continued selling of AB to Jay-Z “has injured and is continuing to injure the reputation and goodwill of [Jay-Z].”
With things seemingly at an impasse, there’s now a case management hearing on the matter set for December 2019 that’ll hopefully resolve the matter one way or the other.
It remains to be seen how this will all pan out but there’s one thing we can say about the little predicament The Little Homie has found itself in: it’s got 99 problems and now Jay-Z is one.