Is Jay-Z’s ’99 Problems’ Legally Accurate? A Law Professor Explains in Line-by-Line Reading

Caleb Mason, an associate professor of law at Southwestern University, has done us all a service by producing, in a paper for the Saint Louis University Law Journal, the most thorough legal reading of Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” yet produced. The upshot? Jay-Z mostly gets it right, except for one glaring omission. Some highlights:

In my rearview mirror is the motherfucking law/I got two choices y’all, pull over the car or/Bounce on the double put the pedal to the floor

The calculation Jay-Z has to make is whether, knowing that the car contains concealed contraband, he’s better off trying to flee or hoping that the police won’t find the drugs during the stop. This may be the hardest choice perps face (until they have to decide whether or not to cooperate), but there’s only one answer: you are always better off having drugs found on you in a potentially illegal search than you are fleeing from a potentially illegal search and getting caught. The flight will provide an independent basis for chasing and arresting you, and the inadequacy of the quantum of suspicion supporting the initial attempted seizure will not taint the contraband discovered if there is an intervening flight. Law students: practice explaining the preceding sentence to a layperson. Smugglers, repeat after me: you have to eat the bust, and fight it in court.

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Via Gawker