Nappy Roots Sued Over "Folks"

St. Louis musician says he wrote band's hit single

January 23, 2003 12:00 AM ET

On the heels of the Nappy Roots' Grammy nomination for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Po' Folks," the Kentucky rap outfit has been hit with a copyright lawsuit over the song. St. Louis, Missouri musician and producer Willie Woods filed suit on January 23rd against the Nappy Roots -- Skinny DeVille, B. Stille, Ron Clutch, Big V., R. Prophet and Scales -- Atlantic Records, and Track Boyz, the production company that received a songwriting credit on "Po' Folks."

Woods claims that in November of 2000 he composed and performed four of the five guitar and bass parts that were eventually used on "Po' Folks" with the understanding that he would receive full credit and compensation for his work. The song made it onto the group's 2002 Atlantic Records debut, Watermelon, Chicken and Gritz, which has since gone platinum.

"Take away what Woods did and you have an electronic drumbeat," says his attorney, Pete Salsich III of the firm Blackwell Sanders Peper Martin. "There's no music whatsoever; it would be an a capella rap. He wasn't handed any music. His parts were completely out of his head -- that's what makes it original. And since he wasn't an employee of any producers or the record label, it remains his as far as the law."

Salsich emphasized that Woods bears no ill will towards the Nappy Roots or Atlantic, who received Woods' guitar parts from Mark Allen Williams of Track Boyz, and that they are named in the suit because they hold copyright interests.

Atlantic Records did not return phone calls by press time.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

More Song Stories entries »