Junior Vasquez has always been a force to be reckoned with. From his legendary nights presiding over some of the biggest dance floors in New York City to reinventing himself at more venues than we can count, Vasquez is, if nothing else, resourceful, resilient and not afraid of taking on some giants.
Surprisingly, sometimes music maker and always provocateur Kanye West did not get the memo on Vasquez. Recemtly, West snagged beats from Junior's 1989 underground scorcher "Work This Pussy" (sans permission) and tossed them onto Teyana Taylor's "K.T.S.E." release. There is absolutely no mistaking that they are the same track. With that in mind, Vasquez's lawyer coordindated with West's label with a settlement being agreed to shortly thereafter.
Ellis D, aka Junior Vasquez – Work This Pussy
Teyana Taylor – W.T.P.
Taylor's "K.T.S.E." was just named by Billboard Magazine as of the 50 Best Albums of 2018, and it is in small part becasue of assistance from Vasquez's pulsing beats. “I’m still intrigued by how Kanye West and Teyana Taylor discovered my 30 year old song,” he says. “I would love to know where and how they found it.”
The original was recorded in 1989 after Junior Vasquez received a cassette tape of the vocal. “Technology was much simpler then,” he recalls. “I sent the track to Arthur Baker at Shake Down Studios and my prime engineer at the time, Mark Platti, and we brought in Boom Boom for the vocals and used MP360 touchpads and an SSL board for the beat.”
Before Junior Vasquez there was Ellis D, which is the pseudonym the track was released under. Boom Boom’s first live performance took place at the original Sound Factory on West 21st Street. It became one of the first tracks to launch the early 90’s vogueing craze.
“Thirty years later I get a call from Teyana Taylor’s label, offering a minimal licensing fee for use of the track,” explains Vasquez. “They referred to it as a sample so I asked to hear the track they made and was surprised that it was essentially my original track with a rap laid on top.”
Vasquez referred Taylor’s label to his attorney to negotiate a more equitable license agreement. “I wasn’t trying to bash anyone or piss anyone off. I was simply after a fair license agreement for the song,” he explains.
Vasquez is now receiving royalties on Teyana Taylor’s WTP as well as writer and publishing credits. “I’m pleased by the success of the new version,” he continues. “Teyana Taylor has introduced the track to a whole new genre that I would never have thought imaginable. Who knows? Maybe it will inspire other hip hop artists and producers to take a look at my collective body of work to see what other tracks might have crossover potential?”