the police had to let him go. Even though, he did, in fact, have cocaine in a secret compartment in his sunroof, it is believed that he was racially profiled by the NJPD simply because he was a high profile rapper who was on the rise. But, like many rappers, Jay-Z also faced his share of criminal charges. He was arrested for allegedly stabbing Lance Riveria for supposedly bootlegging one of this albums. Although, he later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and accepted a 3-year probation sentence. This is just once example of what rappers have to face when they reach a certain level of fame. This targeting of Black male rappers still happens frequently today. For example, the artist Meek Mill was recently locked up violating his probation. The case has sparked a lot on controversy because the judge said that popping wheelies on a dirt bike and getting into a small fist fight earlier (that he didn’t initiate) in 2017 is in violation of his probation and he has to face 2 to 4 years in jail. Meek Mill has been on probation for 10 years because of the same judge who in the past added 5 more years to his probation for similar small incidents and videos of Meek. Many (including myself) believes that Mill is a target for the system and FBI because of the color of his skin, who he is, and what he raps about. It’s not so much because of what he has done in
the past because Mill has done a lot of positive things since becoming a mainstream rapper. To compare Jay-Z’s song to this modern case, you can see how the system targets Black male rappers. They seem to hunt them more if they have a criminal background (like Jay and Meek Mill), but the system still tries to limit what Black Male Rappers can do, but also wants them locked up so they would have some control/power over what them. 99 Problems is a great song that just gives its audience a glimpse of what Black males (rappers and non-rappers) experience with the law system. The challenge of oppression is something we all go through as Black men. This was just an example of how Rappers become target for the law because of their music, who they are, and what their music represents. There are many cases (past and present) of rappers being targeted by police departments. Artists like NWA, Lil Wayne, Tupac, Master P, and Snoop Dogg were just a handful of mainstream rapper who were targeted by the system. It seems like no matter what economic class you identify with, as long as you’re a Black male, you are a target in America today.
- Spring '18
- Jay, Jay-Z