Song Stories

“99 Problems”

Jay-Z | 2003

Patched together by producer Rick Rubin and Jay-Z, "99 Problems" blended Jay-Z's paramount lyrics with Rick Rubin's ability to recognize a great guitar riff. Fans of Rubin's early days with Def Jam might be surprised to know that two decades later, the man behind LL Cool J's "I Need a Beat" was no longer a huge fan of hip-hop. "I hadn't really listened to Jay-Z's music before I worked on the track. I don't listen to very much hip-hop. But I really liked Jay. He has a great spirit."

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Song Stories


The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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