In the middle of their 1993 album track “W.M.A.,” Jay joined the Seattle legends on stage, and the song morphed into a mashup with his “99 Problems.” The lyrics to “W.M.A.” include: ”Big hand slapped by a white male American/Do no wrong, so clean cut/Dirty his hands it comes right off/Police man.” The chorus features singer Eddie Vedder chanting “Police got my brother again!” Meanwhile, the lyrics to “99 Problems” include “‘License and registration and step out of the car/Are you carryin’ a weapon on you? I know a lot of you are’/I ain’t steppin’ out of s***, all my papers legit/’Well do you mind if I look around the car a little bit?’ Well my glove compartment is locked, so is the trunk in the back/And I know my rights, so you gon’ need a warrant for that.”
Thematically, the songs were a perfect match: and Jay-Z’s line in the song “Got beef with radio if I don’t play they show/They don’t play my hits, well I don’t give a s***,” probably resonated with Pearl Jam, who have never played by music industry rules. And, as “99 Problems” is one of Jay-Z’s most “rock” songs, it was perfect musically for Pearl Jam to sink their teeth into. (Indeed, it seems a favorite of Jay-Z’s rock collaborators; he once performed it with the jam band Phish and has recorded a version with industrial metal group Linkin Park).
The collaboration was most likely a one time only event, but Pearl Jam sell “official bootlegs” of all of their concerts on their website, so an authorized version may be available soon.
– Brian Ives, CBS Local