In an interview with New York, bearded couch-sitter Rick Rubin says that were it not for Chris Rock, Jay Z never would have written “99 Problems,” and thousands of lazy bloggers wouldn’t be able to start every article about Hova with, “Jay Z’s got 99 problems but [bugs/Kanye West/the Hantavirus] ain’t one.”
“[Chris] said, ‘Ice-T has this song, and maybe there’s a way to flip it around and do a new version of that.’ And I told Jay Z the idea and he liked it. The Ice-T song is about ‘got 99 problems and a bitch 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.” (Via)
Chris Rock even wrote an early draft of the song, but Jay Z threw out his lyrics when he got to, “Now once upon a time, not too long ago/I was in the greatest movie of all-time, Osmosis Jo‘.