Hip hop superstar Jay-Z is suing an Australian author and publisher Jessica Chiha for her children’s book ‘AB to Jay-Z’.
The book features the line “If you’re having alphabet problems I feel bad for you son, I’ve got 99 problems but my ABCs ain’t one” – a reference to Jay-Z’s 2004 single ’99 Problems’. In the suit, Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter) is alleging the publisher “deliberately and knowingly” used his likeness in a “flagrant and glaring way”.
Carter’s legal team is still calculating damages, and at the time of publication, the defendants have not yet filed a defence.
The Little Homie published the book after raising $8,000 in Kickstarter and according to the lawsuit they were asked to halt publication in March 2018.
Other hip-hop-inspired books they publish include ‘123 With The Notorious B.I.G.’ and ‘First 50 Words With 50 Cent’.
They have come under fire in the past, with a number of people of colour labeling the publisher racist and accusing them of making a profit from a culture they have no affiliation with. Photos are circulating of the author’s husband Danny Chiha in blackface and The Little Homie had published (now deleted) memes dropping the N-word and other AAVE terms.
One scathing Twitter thread started by @sweetfacedinero from 2017 offers some insight as to why someone like Jay-Z might want to flex his legal muscle a small Australian publisher.