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Chris Rock gave Jay Z and Rick Rubin the idea for the chorus of their 2003 hit.
In a New York Magazine feature, published online via Vulture, super producer Rick Rubin revealed that the idea came when Rock said "Ice-T has this song, and maybe there’s a way to flip it around and do a new version of that."
The Ice-T song, also called "99 Problems," first appeared on the rapper's album Home Invasion, released 21 years ago this week, a decade before Jay Z's song. Rubin added that he and Jay Z changed the meaning of the lyrics, saying "the Ice-T song is about 'got 99 problems and a b-tch ain't one,' and then it's a list of him talking about his girls and what a great pimp he is. And our idea was to use that same hook concept, and instead of it being about the girls that are not his problem, instead of being a bragging song, it's more about the problems. Like, this is about the other side of that story."
Rolling Stone notes that Rubin had lost interest in hip-hop before teaming with Jay Z for the song. He previously told the magazine "I don't listen to very much hip-hop. But I really liked Jay. He has a great spirit."