Audio Agitation: The collaboration thicket | St. Louis Public Radio

Audio Agitation: The collaboration thicket

May 20, 2016

The St. Louis music scene is a tangled mess of collaborations, established bands, one-off projects, guest spots, and unexpected guest spots.  It’s an atmosphere that contributes to some of the best music emerging from the city but makes less-hot projects easy to ignore.

If you follow band rosters, album notes, or songwriting credits you’ll likely see certain names appear over and over.  Sometimes you’ll even find a collaborator who appears on a number of works but hasn’t released yet released a full album. 

Today’s Audio Agitation attempts to follow the connective tissues between one group of collaborators and their work. The playlist rabbit hole includes artists like Theresa Payne, the Knuckles, Arshad Goods, Black Spade, Hawthorne Headhunters, and the duo Con and John Franco. 

Theresa Payne: Theresa Payne has contributed vocals to a number of St. Louis groups and will soon release her first solo album, a collaboration with local producer Trifeckta. Some of the album was recorded at the local DOORWAY studios.

The Knuckles:  The Knuckles is a new project by local rapper Rockwell Knuckles and the singer Aloha. The group released their first effort in "SET 1" a few months ago. The song "Laundromat" was recorded at DOORWAY and produced by Trifeckta. 

Arshad Goods: Arshad Goods is nominated for this year’s RFT Hip Hop award. Last year the University City native released the album Black Sunday. His track “Mary Go Round” features The Knuckles’ Aloha.

Black Spade: St. Louis mainstay Black Spade has worked with Trifecka and Rockwell Knuckles and shared the stage with Arshad Goods. He’s been a part of the St. Louis hip-hop community for a number of years and has a number of releases under his belt. Black Spade is working on a collaborative project titled Preacher in the Trap with his younger brother Tef Poe.

Hawthorne Headhunters:  Black Spade is also part of the iconoclastic funk band Hawthorne Headhunters.  HH is a collaboration with vocalist Coultrain (who appeared in an earlier AA).The pair's most recent release appeared in 2012 but the music sounds as current as anything on the market today.

Con and Franco: Con and Franco’s “she EP” was released late last year and made it to a number of top ten lists in area publications.  Both musicians are also associated with MME who’s members have appeared in earlier AA’s. Their collaboration “Essentials” features a guest spot by Spade and additional vocals by Teresa Jenee.

Audio Agitation is a recurring six-song playlist culled from recent releases or shaped by events on St. Louis' ever-changing music scene. If you're from the STL area or Missouri and you're putting out a record you think we should hear, send a heads up to