Ice-T Takes Aim at Jay-Z, Bloggers, and Rap Scene
If you've been listening to the new Body Count album Manslaughter and wondering why the punk metal band included not one, but two versions of the Jay-Z hit "99 Problems," well, frontman Ice-T feels bad for you, son.
"That's my record!" exclaimed the nearly six-foot-tall, muscle-rippled vocalist, who included "99 Problems" on his 1992 rap album Home Invasion 11 years before Jay-Z changed most of the lyrics and revamped it into a worldwide hit. "I wrote that with Brother Marquis. Then Chris Rock, who's a big fan of mine, took it to Rick Rubin and said, 'I think Jay-Z should remake this record.'"
While Jay-Z secured the necessary publishing rights from Warner Bros. to legally rework the song, he included Ice's shout-out "hit me!" and the main hook, "I got 99 problems but a b---- ain't one." Even so, he didn't give Ice-T props for writing the original. "I can't say he stole it," Ice-T told Yahoo Music. "He just did it and nobody said anything, so I didn't really take it as a dis. It's just one of those things."
During Body Count rehearsals, Ice-T's bandmates – lead guitarist Ernie C, guitarist Juan of the Dead, bassist Vincent Price, and drummer Ill Will – started breaking out "99 Problems" as a joke. At first, it was only a few riffs, then the song developed a new life. "I would f--k around and sing the original words, and suddenly everyone who knows Jay's version went, 'Yo, now the song makes sense because you're singing about a bunch of women. We never understood what Jay-Z was singing about.' When it came time to do the new album we said, 'Let's just throw it on there because it's cool.'"
It was also an experiment of sorts to see how many fans and jounalists were familiar with Ice-T's old rap catalog. "We definitely did it as a booby trap to catch people who don't know that it's not Jay-Z's song," said Ice. "So when they ask, 'Why'd Ice-T put Jay's song on there?' Somebody can slap the s--t out of them."
Ice-T laughed at the thought. Simulated violence entertains him, as does writing gross-out songs about dismemberment, street violence, and the kinds of crazy characters that inhabit horror movies. His is a multidimensional world. He retains the tough-guy tone he learned on the street in his youth, the twisted sense of humor he had when he released "Smoked Pork" – a skit about shooting policemen that appeared on the first Body Count album – and he's still motivated to write about the disturbing things he sees around him, as well as his violent fantasies.