When Jay Z‘s song “99 Problems” came out in 2004, it was the third single from what was supposed to have been his last and greatest opus, The Black Album. It was preceded by two highly successful singles “Change Clothes” and “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”. “99 Problems” was criticized at the time for including the seemingly misogynistic line “If you’re having girl problems, I feel bad for you son/I’ve got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one,” a straight lift from Ice-T’s 1993 track of the same name – but listeners didn’t seem to care – the track helped catapult the album to sell 3.5 million copies* (in the time since) and remains one of his most popular songs.
And let’s be real, “99 Problems” is one of the best hip hop tracks of all time. And that might be a part of the reason I love the new illustrative series of Jay Z’s 99 Problems, by designer Ali Graham. The increasingly popular Tumblr 99 Problems is updated daily and includes Jay Z’s hypothetical problems like “Poor Table Service” (pictured w/ Kanye West) ; “Beard Envy” (pictured w/ master producer Rick Rubin); “Bad Twerk Ethic” (pictured w/ Miley Cyrus); and “Broken Umbrella (Ella, Ella)” (pictured w/ Rihanna).
If you dig them as much as I do, you can get 8×11 prints of your favorites (limited amounts) at WerdPlai.com and if you follow WerdPlai on Twitter, they’re currently offering 25% off codes on select prints.
And check out Ali Graham’s website – he’s got a lot of great projects, including another favorite Drawing a Blank – a sort of illustrative scrapbook of sketch-like designs of people that evolved when he “discovered that the energy and essence of a person could be captured in just their outline.” It may sound vague, but the site is captivating.