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Jay-Z Has Big "Problems"

Rapper battles with MTV over new video

May 4, 2004 12:00 AM ET

"I feel like Madonna," says Jay-Z of what he calls his "battle" with MTV over the disturbing imagery in his superb new video for "99 Problems," from his Black Album.

Made by director Mark Romanek -- responsible for Johnny Cash's 2003 "Hurt" clip -- "99 Problems" contains gritty black-and-white images of Jay-Z returning to his childhood home in Brooklyn's Marcy projects, street fights and, ultimately, his own fictionalized murder.

"One of my ideas was the cliche, like in Godfather, of somebody being riddled with bullets in slow motion," says Romanek. The director says Jay-Z didn't like the idea at first "but became enamored with what it meant symbolically."

MTV asked Romanek to edit about ten scenes, but he agreed only to blur certain images. MTV is airing the clip after 6 p.m.

"We're not interested in what MTV likes or doesn't like," he says. "If you make something good enough, MTV will want to show it."

 

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Song Stories

“Don't Dream It's Over”

Crowded House | 1986

Early in the sessions for Crowded House's debut album, the band and producer Mitchell Froom were still feeling each other out, and at one point Froom substituted session musicians for the band's Paul Hester and Nick Seymour. "At the time it was a quite threatening thing," Neil Finn told Rolling Stone. "The next day we recorded 'Don't Dream It's Over,' and it had a particularly sad groove to it — I think because Paul and Nick had faced their own mortality." As for the song itself, "It was just about on the one hand feeling kind of lost, and on the other hand sort of urging myself on — don't dream it's over," Finn explained.

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