On January 23, local musician and hip-hop producer Willie Woods filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, claiming that he deserves co-writing and performance credits for his guitar and bass work on Nappy Roots' "Po Folks." The Grammy-nominated hit single was produced by St. Louis' white-hot Trackboyz team, the beat-magicians behind such massive club hits as Nelly's "Air Force Ones," Ali's "Breathe In, Breathe Out" and Da Hol' 9's "Lemmehollaatcha." In the suit, Woods alleges that he composed and performed the song's central hook and, in exchange for his contributions, was promised credit and compensation. He got neither, he says. Woods, who was profiled last year in an RFT story about local hip-hop starmakers D2 ["The Producers," April 10, 2002], discovered that his work was being used when he heard the song on the radio. According to one of his lawyers, Daniel R. Friedman, Woods tried to work it out with the Trackboyz -- Tarboy (né Mark Williams) and Joe Capo (né Joe Anthony Kent) -- to no avail. "He feels like he's being taken advantage of," Friedman says. The Trackboyz issued the following statement: "We worked so hard to get this far, and it's a shame that now we are beginning to see some success and with the Grammy Awards coming up that someone is trying to exploit our work and efforts for money."
Ouch. We'll keep you posted.
On Saturday, February 1, the dirt-rock pinups of Sullen come home, trailing clouds of glory, for a special gig at the Rocket Bar. The St. Peters threesome, honored as St. Louis' best hard-rock band in last year's RFT Music Awards, has a lot to celebrate these days. Wes Kidd (Triple Fast Action) is managing 'em, Scott Lucas (Local H) is producing 'em and record labels both corporate and indie are frantically pitching woo to the hardworking cuties. Fancy showcases in LA, awkward meet-and-greets with salivating executives, recording sessions at Chicago's Million Yen Studios -- from the looks of things, Sullen is poised for the big time. Recent recordings include a somewhat shinier remake of "No Sleep," wherein Shanna Kiel's sugary snarl is pushed way up front in the mix and delirious handclaps abound. But never fear, true believers: Sullen's wiry hooks and greasy riffage still radiate with fuzz and fury, and the glorious buzz buzzeth ever onward, even when Justin's singing all pretty-like. Kurt only knows we wouldn't wish corporate servitude on any band, much less one we genuinely like, but there's no denying that the commercial-rock airwaves would be greatly improved if Sullen managed to pull a Nirvana or something. And there you'll be, you poor sap, way in the back of the arena, kicking yourself because you missed 'em when they were still playing glamorous little dives like the Rocket Bar! If that's not incentive enough, opening the set are Riddle of Steel and the Conformists.
On February 1, the Pageant hosts "Forever Peace, Katt," a tribute to Cornelius "Katt" Davis of the local rap duo Bits N Pieces. Davis was shot and killed last September by an off-duty police officer after a bizarre series of events that will probably never be fully understood ["Radar Station," September 25, 2002]. Giving their propers will be local turntable luminary DJ Needles (of Q95.5); conscious-rapper Mperor; hip-hop buzz generators Soul Tyde; eclectic groove collectives Core Project and the Art Thugs; and poets Tammy Davis (Katt's mom), Holiday Simmons and Amber Tabares. Katt's brother and former Bits N Pieces partner, Jia, will perform with his new project, the Committee. Their sister, Toyy, is also on the roster. All the proceeds go to the Cornelius Davis memorial fund.
On February 2, St. Louis' best online blues resource, www.STLblues.net, is holding a benefit at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups, from 6 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Among the ten acts scheduled to perform are local soul queen Renée Smith, guitar gurus Mark Arbogast and Rich McDonough, rockish blues quartet Uncle Albert and East St. Louis native Alvin Jett. Local blues royalty Henry Townsend, Oliver Sain and Johnnie Johnson have been invited as special guests; with any luck, they'll come onstage and jam. Approximately 25 percent of the proceeds will go to the St. Louis Blues Society Blues Fund, which helps needy musicians and their families, and the rest will help defray the costs of STLblues.net, which are mostly assumed by one noble soul, Dave Beardsley.