The lawyers for Jessica Chiha, the Melbourne mother sued by Jay-Z for selling a children’s book using his name and lyrics, have called the lawsuit “embarrassing” in new documents filed in Federal Court.
Chiha’s company The Little Homie, which draws inspiration heavily from hip-hop, sells a book titled AB To Jay-Z. It puns a few times on Jay-Z’s infamous lyric from his 2004 classic ‘99 Problems’: “If you’re having girl problems, I feel bad for you son / I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one.”
As News.com.au reports, the book features the line “ZZ is for Jay-Z and he has 99 problems, but his ABCs ain’t one,” while the back cover includes the quote “If you’re having alphabet problems I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but my ABCs ain’t one.”
Jay-Z sued Chiha and The Little Homie last month. According to the New York Times, the rapper’s lawsuit called the use of his name, likeness and lyrical references “a deliberate and knowing attempt to trade off [his] reputation and good will”. The lawsuit also claims that Jay-Z’s lawyers have sent multiple cease-and-desist letters to The Little Homie since 2017, when tweets criticising the book and company went viral online.
Have y'all seen this kids book called A B to Jay-Z? I asked was it black owned. Look at the response. Before I asked I knew the answer pic.twitter.com/c8r4Q8ole1
— ☿ s͎a͎v͎i͎o͎r͎s͎e͎l͎f͎ ?? (@sweetfacedinero) July 3, 2017
At the time, Chiha issued a statement that read, “We are unbelievably disappointed to find ourselves caught in a legal battle with someone whose music we love and adore.”
In a new defence filed in Federal Court on December 20, Chiha’s lawyers described the rapper’s trademark infringement lawsuit as “embarrassing in its present form”, News.com.au reports. They also bring up the fact that Jay-Z took his song’s hook—“I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one”—from Ice-T’s own song ‘99 Problems’ on his 1993 album ‘Home Invasion’.
In a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone, Ice-T said it doesn’t “really” bother him that people might be unaware that the iconic hook came from his song, noting that Jay-Z “went through all the correct procedures”. “He didn’t steal the record. He paid publishing,” he said.