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JAY-Z has filed a lawsuit against a small web retailer based in Sydney, Australia for trademark and copyright infringement, The New York Times reports. Online shop The Little Homie sells a variety of hip-hop inspired books and clothing items for children. Among their products is a book titled A B to Jay-Z, which repurposes a lyric 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 book also features like likenesses of rappers including JAY-Z, Biggie Smalls, Eminem, and others.
According to the complaint (viewed by the Times), JAY-Z’s lawsuit states that the use of his name, likeness, and references to “99 Problems” in A B to Jay-Z, 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 own commercial gain.” The complaint also states that JAY-Z’s attorneys have sent multiple cease-and-desist letters to the Little Homie since 2017.
“We are unbelievably disappointed to find ourselves caught in a legal battle with someone whose music we love and adore,” the Little Homie owner Jessica Chiha said in a statement to the Times.
In addition to JAY-Z’s legal action against the Little Homie, the retailer has come under scrutiny for cultural appropriation and racism. One Change.org petition alleges that Chiha used racist language to promote a Kickstarter campaign for her company. It also accuses her husband of wearing blackface.