Jay-Z's "99 Problems" has become something of a crime anthem, a cathartic inversion of "I Fought The Law." In the song, a younger Jay-Z is transporting drugs in his car when he sees dreaded flashing lights behind him. Over the rest of the verse, Jay-Z details his conversation with the officer and trails off when the cop suggests that police dogs are on the way.
The song produced a handful of the most memorable lines in recent hip-hop history, including "I got 99 problems but a b---h ain't one," which became a refrain shouted by single men (just like his future wife Beyonce's "if you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it"). But just like Ray Bradbury eventually said he never meant Farenheit 451 to be an anti-government censorship tome, Jay would later clarify the songs lyrics and say his use of "b---h" in the song refers to a police dog and is not a derogatory term for a woman (watch Jay explain the song in the video at the top of this post).
Regardless, the track continues to be memorized by countless hip-hop fans. Given its universality and the legal nature of its subject matter, it's perhaps surprising that it took so long for an extremely thorough breakdown of the relevant law enforcement issues to be published. Alas, the wait is over.
Caleb Mason, an associate professor of law at Southwestern Law School, has written a 19-page law review article on how the Fourth Amendment factors into the second verse of "99 Problems."
The whole piece, which was published in the Saint Louis University Law Journal, is available as a PDF here. It's a great read, mostly because Mason doesn't pretend he's not having fun. Here's a sample, regarding the couplet "Well, my glove compartment is locked, so is the trunk and the back / And I know my rights so you go’n need a warrant for that":
If this Essay serves no other purpose, I hope it serves to debunk, for any readers who persist in believing it, the myth that locking your trunk will keep the cops from searching it. Based on the number of my students who arrived at law school believing that if you lock your trunk and glove compartment, the police will need a warrant to search them, I surmise that it’s even more widespread among the lay public. But it’s completely, 100% wrong.
Better still, consider the broader takeaway Mason suggests for both law enforcement personnel and perpetrators:
The lesson for perps is threefold: (1) don’t consent, (2) know the reasonable suspicion boilerplate and don’t provide it, and (3) make a record of the encounter any way you can, including your behavior, appearance, and demeanor before and during the stop, the officer’s stated motive for the stop, all of your responses to questioning, whether or not you were placed under arrest, and the exact amount of time you were held on the side of the road. And finally, most importantly, for both sides—when in doubt, talk to a lawyer. My door’s always open to players on both sides of this game. Call me.
And there you have it. Again, here's the link to the full article.
"Numb/Encore" ("Miami Vice")
"We get down, if the play calls for it, bud." Say what you will about Michael Mann's overwrought, ultra-stylized "Miami Vice" ("Drive" before "Drive"?), but its Jay-Z-fueled trailer was just about perfect.
"Heart Of The City" ("American Gangster")
You can't prove that "American Gangster" -- an R-rated, two-and-a-half hour drama -- opened with $43 million solely because Universal used "Heart of the City" in the trailer, but you can't <em>not</em> prove it either. Just sayin'.
"Reminder" ("The Hangover Part II")
As if you needed another <em>reminder</em> (groan) that "The Hangover Part II" was just a pale retread of "The Hangover," the marketing campaign used Jay-Z's "Reminder" to score many of the spots and trailers. At least the song is good.
"99 Problems" ("This Means War")
Nothing says "edgy" conflict like "99 Problems." In addition to this early spot for "This Means War," the song also pops up in "Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" and "Tower Heist."
"Power" ("The Social Network")
Not as tied to "The Social Network" as that <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bI9fL5EaZY4" target="_hplink">chorale version of "Creep" that was used to expertly in the first trailers</a>, Kanye West's "Power" had its own affect on the Facebook movie. After all, even nerds look cool when Kanye is blasting. (Also used in "Limitless.")
"Empire State of Mind" ("Sex and the City 2")
The song might be all New York, but the movie was not. "Sex and the City 2" sent Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte to Abu Dhabi. Obviously.
"Don't Let Me Die" ("G.I. Joe: Retaliation")
"In the immortal words of Jay-Z." Yep, see you at the theater this summer!
"Run This Town" ("The Fighter")
An inspirational sports drama that relied on its score and some period appropriate '80s and '90s music, the television spots for "The Fighter" trotted out "Run This Town." The results? Kinda awesome, actually.
"Beware" ("The Dictator")
Even the Borat-y jokes in the trailer for "The Dictator" look better with Jay-Z blaring on the soundtrack. Well played, Paramount marketing team!
"No Church in the Wild" ("Safe House")
For the Denzel Washington-Ryan Reynolds action flick (out Friday), Universal used the "Watch the Throne" hit "No Church in the Wild." How much money this will add to the coffers remains to be seen, but the guess here is <em>a lot</em>. Remember "American Gangster"?
"Oh My God" ("Gangster Squad")
Gosling + Stone + Hova + this line: "I was just hoping to take you to bed." You're in.
"No Church In the Wild" ("The Great Gatsby")
You crazy for this one, Baz Luhrmann!
"Brooklyn Go Hard" ("42")
Warner Bros. has a thing for using anachronistic Jay-Z music cues in its trailers. "42" follows "Gangster Squad" and "The Great Gatsby" in this studio trend, not that anyone is complaining. This one is all swagger.
"Power" ("Broken City")
No one man should have all that power, especially when that man is Russell Crowe.