Anatomy of a Hit

What's in the "Nookie" song? A sordid tale of South Florida's hip-hop world

Though E-Class passed on the song, Pandisc's Bo Crane, who has a long relationship with Trahan dating back to when Young & Restless were stars on his label, decided to buy rights to the track in March of 2003 for around $5,000. Trahan had already signed a contract with Crane to release his solo debut on Pandisc under the name Mr. Charlie. Crane decided to buy "Coochie Good" too, so he could release it as the album's first single.

Trahan says he first heard about "Nookie" when a friend called him about it. Big Chuck confirms this, noting how when the song was played during a Poe Boy party at the Club Honeys strip club, that same friend approached him and said, "That's our song." "I was like, 'I don't know what you're talking about,'" Big Chuck says. "But they were adamant about it."

Days later, Trahan went to Poe Boy's offices, hoping to discuss the matter with E-Class. But the label executive's response was alternately sarcastic and dismissive. "He was in a 'playful' mood," Trahan remembers. "He said, 'Well, when Jacki-O and Rick Ross brought me the song, I told them that Charles had a song like that... '"

Steve Satterwhite
Jacki-O wants to serve you a taste of "Nookie."
Jacki-O wants to serve you a taste of "Nookie."

Trahan then brought "Nookie" to Crane's attention. "I thought it was strangely, almost uncannily the same as his version," the latter says. "Same subject matter, same lyrics." While Crane threatened to bring a lawsuit against Poe Boy for copyright infringement, Trahan tried to persuade E-Class to reach a settlement. "A couple of friends of mine who talked to him said, 'Y'all try to work it out,'" he says. "So I tried to call him again, but he had a more arrogant attitude, like, 'I don't want to talk about that.' So we're going to court."

Last November, Trahan and Pandisc Music Corp. filed a complaint against Poe Boy Entertainment Inc. and Eric [sic] Prince, charging that the label "conceived of a way to exploit Trahan's musical compositions and ideas without compensating Trahan." They also allege that "Prince and Poe Boy caused the musical compositions 'Pussy (Clean)' [or "Nookie"] and 'Pussy (Dirty)' to be recorded. These Poe Boy musical compositions copied Trahan's ideas." They're seeking $15,000 in damages along with attorney's fees and plan to seek an injunction to stop Poe Boy from selling the "Nookie" track.

On the surface, "Nookie" and "Coochie Good" sound markedly different. While "Nookie" slinks along at a slow pace, "Coochie Good" is a high-speed bass romp costarring funk legend Blowfly. But there are a few similarities. The former's chorus goes, "Nookie real good/That nookie real good"; "Coochie Good" goes, "Coochie good/Coochie real good," mimicking Salt-N-Pepa's 1980s dance classic "Push It." At the end of "Nookie," Jacki-O starts shouting out different countries ("Bahamian nookie/Puerto Rican nookie"), just like "Coochie Good" ("What about Puerto Rican pussy?"). Big Chuck calls these similarities "a coincidence."

According to a local entertainment attorney familiar with the case who does not want his name disclosed, Pandisc's suit will hinge on three factors. First, Pandisc will have to demonstrate that "Nookie" carbon-copied part of "Coochie Good," whether that is "common lyrics or common melodies," he says. The more commonalities that are found between the two songs, the more likely that "Nookie" will be found in violation of Pandisc's copyright. The second factor is that the copied elements must be original to the infringed work. For example, this would invalidate the claim (which wasn't a part of Pandisc's written complaint) that "Nookie"'s chorus unfairly copies "Coochie Good," since the latter itself appropriates the Salt-N-Pepa hit.

The case may be decided on the third and final factor: Did Jacki-O have "access" to "Coochie Good," which would have allowed her to copy it? Even if one discounts Trahan's belief that E-Class saved the track to his computer, there were probably several other opportunities for her to hear it. Trahan and Jacki-O separately claim allegiance to Club Rolexx, a local strip club and community hangout that often breaks new and unreleased Miami rap tracks as the dancers perform; Trahan says he gave a copy of "Coochie Good" to one of the club's DJs back in late 2002. Furthermore, BDS' confirmation of its existence that year, well before "Nookie" was even written, means that the song was garnering airplay, no matter how minuscule.

But that doesn't prove that Jacki-O was at Club Rolexx, or listening to the radio, at the exact time it was being played. Big Chuck is adamant that she never heard it before writing "Nookie": "She came up with it totally on her own."

You could say that Trahan is indirectly responsible for Poe Boy Entertainment. Back when he was rapping in Young & Restless, he used to take a teenage E-Class along with him on tours through the South with artists such as Public Enemy and Ice Cube.

"We was cool... he used to stay with me and cook. He was a great cook!" laughs Trahan, noting that E-Class often stayed at his house back then. "He could cook anything: kitchen peas and rice, chicken, macaroni and cheese."

The success of Young & Restless' 1989 debut, Something to Get You Hyped, led to a lengthy lawsuit over royalties with the album's executive producer, Sam "P-Man" Ferguson, who had the group under a production contract. By 1992, it was able to extricate itself from Ferguson's P-Man Productions and sign directly with Pandisc. But the legal proceedings proved to be too much of a distraction for the young rappers, and its 1992 follow-up, That Was Then -- This Is Now! sank without a trace. "We didn't put no creativity into it like we did with the first album because we were unhappy," laments Trahan.

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