GREENWICH VILLAGE — Rapper A$AP Rocky made millions off a track worked on by one of the musicians with the in-house band at legendary Greenwich Village music venue Cafe Wha? while never paying him, the musician said.
Harlem-based A$AP Rocky, born Rakim Mayers, hit the big time in 2011 at age 23 when he clinched a $3 million record deal with Sony/RCA for himself and his collective, A$AP Mob, after his debut single "Peso" made the charts.
But Kevin Andreas, 29, said he wrote and sang the hook of the popular song roughly four years ago, but never saw a dime for it.
Andreas said A$AP Rocky "was no one" when he came to him for help with the song.
"He wasn't signed or anything at that point," said Andreas, who runs the Cafe Wha? in-house band on Sunday nights as the lead guitarist and singer.
Andreas, who lives in Williamsburg, said A$AP Rocky approached him to produce the vocals section and mix the track.
"I came up with the melody and he kind of couldn't do it," Andreas said. A$AP Rocky's voice was too deep, the songwriter explained. "So he was like, 'Do you want to do it?'"
That's how Andreas' voice ended up on the track, crooning the words, "This is the way it goes, this is the way we roll / Cause every day we on our pesos," he said.
"We worked on it for a couple of months," Andreas said, adding that the process was stymied by a "scheduling conflict."
"He was unavailable a lot and flaked on a few [recording] sessions, and we kind of had a falling out," Andreas said. "He ended up working with another studio [and] they never credited me or gave me any compensation or anything."
Text messages compiled by a lawyer for Andreas show lengthy back-and-forths between Andreas and A$AP Rocky, as well as Andreas and other members of his crew, trying to coordinate recording sessions around A$AP Rocky's complicated schedule. They also show discussions with the rapper and others asking Andreas to send different versions of the track, and praising how the track came out.
But since then, Andreas said, he's "had a really hard time getting ahold of" A$AP Rocky.
"I'm still trying to reach out to them," Andreas said. "The money would be great but the credit alone is worth a lot."
A$AP Rocky's manager did not return a voicemail requesting comment.
A lawyer for Andreas sent a letter to RCA in 2012 describing the situation and requesting it be resolved.
"To date, no agreement has ever been entered into between Mr. Andreas and [A$AP Rocky], in respect to Mr. Andreas' services as a producer, performer and songwriter on Peso, or on any other recording, nor has Mr. Andreas been credited or paid for the same," the lawyer writes. "Mr. Andreas wishes a prompt and amicable resolution to all outstanding issues, and hopes that you will contact the undersigned at your earliest convenience to resolve the same."
Andreas said RCA called the lawyer immediately and said they would take care of it, but never did. The lawyer sent two more letters, but Andreas couldn't afford litigation at the time, he said.
The vice president of RCA's business and legal affairs department, to whom the lawyer's letter was addressed, did not respond to an emailed inquiry from DNAinfo New York.
Meanwhile, Andreas' personal band — an eight-piece "R&B, soulful thing" — is headlining a show at Highline Ballroom this Wednesday, and a song he produced at his recording studio in Williamsburg was picked for a promo commercial of Caitlyn Jenner's new TV show.