Wes Green says Steve Poindexter cheated him out of the credit he was due on seminal Chicago house tracks.
When the spine-tingling melody of “Computer Madness” first rang out from Wes Green’s sole studio speaker, he knew he’d struck house music gold. “It just hit me, ‘This is powerful,’” he told EDM Identity over video chat.
But Wes got blindsided before he could get the song signed to a label in earnest. One day in 1989, he came across that title under someone else’s name during a visit to a Chicago record store.
It appeared along with others he says he produced titled “Chillin’ With The P” and “Work That Motha Fucker” on an EP of the latter track’s namesake. Credited for all three instead of Wes was popular Chicago DJ Steve Poindexter.
In an in-depth interview with 909originals, Wes Green (whose full name is Louie Wesley Green) claimed that Poindexter made negligible creative contributions to the songs in question. Poindexter allegedly convinced him to split any earnings from them 50/50 on account of his industry connections — only to vanish after Green, who was only 16 at the time, gave him the masters to record to DAT.
The record caught fire in the nascent Chicago house scene and is considered a primary influence to the ghetto house genre. In 2015, the late DJ Deeon included it on his list of “The Five Most Bootylicious Ghetto House Tracks Ever,” calling it “the classic foundation and inspiration for underground music from Chicago’s Southside.”
“I pretty much had PTSD because of this,” Green said during our conversation. “Everywhere you go, people are saying, ‘Hey, ‘Work That Motha Fucker’” is my favorite track.’ ‘Oh, ‘Computer Madness,’ that’s was the stuff.’ Nobody wants to believe you, and it just burns. It’s hard to explain.”
Discouraged from pursuing dance music in any meaningful capacity until years later, Wes Green moved on with his life and found happiness on a different path. That wouldn’t be the end of it, though. Nearly 35 years later, he’s campaigning to get the credit he says he’s due — and he appears to have a strong case.
Method to the Computer Madness
Electronic music fans of today might not listen to “Computer Madness” and innately recognize how it could have been so influential in the late ‘80s. It helps to draw comparisons to other dance tracks of the era, and “Computer Madness” holds its own against some of the most groundbreaking.
Shortly after Green moved to the Southside of Chicago with his mother in 1986, their neighbor introduced him to Poindexter. The two made fast friends over their shared passion for house music, which had begun to emerge from the city’s Black, Latino, and gay communities.
Poindexter convinced Green to save up and purchase a Casio CZ-101 keyboard to aid in his creative process. At first, Green found it hard to use. In time, he unlocked its potential by discovering that he could hook it up to his Roland TR-505 drum machine using the MIDI protocol.
“Some of those sounds are so out there, I don’t think I even put them in a track,” Green recounted. “But when I took those sounds and layered them, they added to the underline. The ‘Computer Madness’ bassline stayed throughout the whole track, so the upper level sounds would change while the bass stayed the same. That’s how I accomplished that sound, how I got it to rumble throughout the whole thing even when the high end changed.”
Wes Green had initially been more interested in making house songs with a traditional structure, like Ten City’s 1989 classic “That’s the Way Love Is.” Hearing the brooding synth work of “Computer Madness” play back in his bedroom studio opened his mind to new possibilities, however. While they’re not particularly similar from a sound design standpoint, the track’s abstract sonics are perhaps better compared to those of “Acid Tracks,” which came courtesy of Phuture in 1987 and provided a necessary ingredient for the UK acid house movement.
While Green may have suspected that he had a hit on his hands, he recalls that Steve Poindexter knew it for sure. “Steve was like ‘Man, the kids are gonna love this shit,’” he said. Poindexter’s prediction proved correct — but Green reaped none of the rewards.
Wes Green attended the University of Illinois Chicago and went on to do well for himself with a career in cybersecurity. He still produced and played music, albeit more as a side hobby. He had all but forgotten about his dispute with Poindexter until the two had a chance meeting in 2013.
Along with some of his DJ friends, Green had been planning a party in celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday. To his surprise, Poindexter showed up at one of their meetings in a warehouse. In the 909originals interview, Green said that he confronted Poindexter about his grievances within earshot of Chicago house DJ Roy Davis Jr. and vocalist J.R. Jordan.
Wes claims that Poindexter apologized and admitted to stealing “Computer Madness,” “Work That Mutha Fucka,” and “Chillin’ With The P.” EDM Identity reached out to Jordan, who corroborated Green’s account.
After their tense conversation, Roy Davis Jr. also clued Green into an infuriating revelation. “Computer Madness” alone had apparently outsold all 384 tracks Green had released over the years. Until then, he had been under the impression that it only garnered modest success.
Green claims that after Poindexter’s misdeeds came to light in Chicago house’s innermost circle, he promised to set the record straight and properly credit Green in a 2014 interview with Resident Advisor. The article went live — but while Poindexter acknowledged that he and Green collaborated, he made no mention of having cheated him out of glory or earnings.
Then, nearly three years ago, Poindexter appeared on WNUR’s Vintage House Show. He admitted to enlisting Green to help him with the percussion for “Work That Mutha Fucka,” and even acknowledged that Green had produced the bassline and melody of “Computer Madness” before he had even gotten involved himself. This time, Poindexter’s story included an anecdote about how Green was properly credited the first time the record was pressed, but his name had somehow gotten removed from subsequent reissues.
Wes Green finally had enough. He hired a UK lawyer named Raymond Caramba-Coker to help him reclaim his rights — his identity, as the attorney reportedly put it. They filed a claim with ASCAP and provided enough evidence that the publishing company now credits Green on “Work That Mutha Fucka, “Computer Madness,” “Chillin’ With The P,” and “Whiplash” (the latter of which Poindexter also released as his own in 1991).
They haven’t had as much luck getting Steve Poindexter to cooperate. Green alleges that they’ve tried to contact him for nearly a year and have yet to receive a response. EDM Identity reached out to Steve Poindexter for comment and he has not replied at the time of writing.
Considering his lived experiences, it’s easy to understand why Wes Green would want to take action. “You can’t understand the feeling of family and camaraderie when we were on the dancefloor with all these people, and everybody’s dancing to this music,” he said. “Those of us who made this music and all of the people who went to those parties, all the people who experienced it — if we told you the stories about what happened at these parties, some people wouldn’t even believe it.”
He continued: “All of the music we did was the structure around which the community was built. The music was why we went to the parties, and we all bonded because of the music. And for Steve to take that away from me — my identity as a person who did it — it just hurts. Honest to god, it just hurts, and I never thought he would do it.”
Green emphasized that, at the end of the day, he wants nothing more than to set the record straight. “Bottom line, I just want people to know the truth,” he said.