I Got 99 Problems and My Fanbase is One…

And so it goes as music, the music festival, and social media get jumbled up when things happen on stage.

Jay-Z’s Made in America music festival played Philadephia’s Fairmount Park September 1st and 2nd. It was widely promoted through some vague Nike-esque Budweiser (the concert’s main sponsor) commercials, but the real show continued online long after the performers had come and gone.

Seattle rockers Pearl Jam co-headlined the festival with Jigga, and it wasn’t long after the festival closed that the former’s crazy fanbase came out of the woodwork to bash the band for its performance of Jay’s “99 Problems.

One of the more hilarious responses from Pearl Jam’s community forum:

Although the song is allegedly about being stopped by cops, the fact that he clearly says “if you’re having GIRL problems…i got 99 problems but the BITCH ain’t one” clearly suggests he’s talking about a woman not a female dog. No matter what the verses are about, the hook is what everyone sings/remembers and most people assume based on that alone that the song is about women. Was this an accident? I think not. And anyway I don’t think that the song is any better if it’s just another song where Jay-Z glorifies drug dealing. The line where he basically accuses the cops of racial profiling kills me-he’s a DRUG DEALER that’s why he’s getting pulled over.

Disregarding the fact that PJ led into the song with a version of their Malice Green-inspired “WMA”—a song itself about police brutality and racial profiling—Pearl Jam fans, for some strange reason, take their favorite band so seriously as to be nearly deranged about the band they love.

Some fans love the band so much, they wrote letters to them expressing their disgust and disappointment in the band playing “99 Problems” with Jay-Z onstage. One open letter, beginning with a reference Abigail Adams about the rights of women, espouses that the song is about “sexual profiling,” despite Jay’s insistence that the “bitch” in the song refers to a police dog.

What these ornery—and reactionary—Pearl Jam fans are missing is that musical collaboration is one thing that makes contemporary music fun, (not to mention listenable). Obviously, they never got down to The Grey Album or Max Tannone’s Jaydiohead project. To top it all off, Pearl Jam’s M.O. has always been political and social disruption since their inception, from their legal battles with Ticketmaster to Eddie Vedder wearing masks in public to avoid the press. (Not that this collaboration has anything to do with protest or social unrest; it’s just that the reaction of some fans make it seem like it.)

Sure, now that Pearl Jam are all in their 40s they might have lost a bit of that edge. But if the band you love wants to perform a song you find vile or offensive, that shouldn’t be cause for alarm; instead of lashing out, it should warrant some consideration of the fact that maybe a politically active, socially-minded band like Pearl Jam simply wants to get up on stage and have a good time every once in a while.

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