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In 2017, a small book retailer from Sydney, Australia, held a Kickstarter campaign to create their series of hip-hop inspired children’s books like “Little Homie” and “A B to Jay-Z.” Jay-Z later became aware of the book after audiences started questioning if the company was black-owned, which it is not, and rumors that accuse the owners of blackface. Jay-Z attorney first sent the company multiple cease-and-desist letters, but the owners have stated they will not stop publishing the series. 

The creators include drawings of some of the most famous rappers, Jay-Z, Biggie Smalls, and Eminem. In their book “Little Homie,” the author repurposed lyrics from Jay-Z’s The Black Album track “99 Problems”: “If you’re having alphabet problems I feel bad for your son, I got 99 problems but my ABCs ain’t one.” (JAY-Z’s original lyric is: “If you’re having girl problems I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one.”) 

The owner of the books has said that they will not stop publishing the book and instead said, “We are unbelievably disappointed to find ourselves caught in a legal battle with someone whose music we love and adore.” 

The lawsuit claims that the use of Jay-Z’s “name, likeness, and references to “99 Problems”, as well as other products sold by the Little Homie, constitute “a deliberate and knowing attempt to trade off the reputation and good will” of JAY-Z. The complaint also reportedly alleges that the retailer has used JAY-Z’s intellectual property “for their commercial gain.” The complaint also states that JAY-Z’s attorneys have sent multiple cease-and-desist letters to the Little Homie since 2017.”

– Excerpt from an article for PitchFork by Madison Bloom. Find the full article here


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