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Deal Gone Wrong: Papoose Is Good…And That’s “No Jive”

As told to Ron Johnson (@ronjohnson3319)

“PAPOOSE PAP-POOSE”! This was catch line you would hear before being bombarded with lyrical feats that had the alphabet calling for witness protection just eight years ago. The story of the Brooklyn’s lyrical one taking the underground scene by hostage in the mid-’00s with plethora of punchline mixtapes that allowed him to demand $1.5 million from Jive Records is nothing short of legend. It was a deal that would seemed to solidify another gifted wordsmith into the ranks of Hip-Hop royalty, but after a year of his debut album, The Nacirema Dream, being shelved, Pap opted out the multimillion dollar deal to try grind it out in the streets that made him once again.

AllHipHop.com recently spoke with Papoose to find out what went wrong, how a Jive deal could not defer his dream, and how he is still eating off his buzz today. He also explains Nas’ offer and the major label bids that led him to the $1.5 million deal with Jive Records:

“As far as me signing with the label, I was on the grind, you know what I’m saying? I was working, and I was fortunate enough to have the reaction that the audience gave my music. It was a large one. [laughter] I was fortunate…for that. I was just putting out my music. The people was just accepting it. The people was loving it. I was real consistent with it. I was winning mixtape awards when mixtape awards counted. I just gained a lot of notoriety off my mixtapes.

So, basically myself and my team made our own machine. It got to the point that I was doing so much. Putting out so much music, and I was traveling so much, doing so many shows that I didn’t really need a label. And in the beginning, the objective was to get a record deal, but as I started putting out music and I was going on tour…a lot of things I was doing was groundbreaking, hands down.

You know, we had offers from day one. A lot of people started making offers down the line. The highest offer came in from Jive, the $1.5 million. Interscope made a nice offer. We got an offer from Def Jam. Nas made an offer because he reached out to me. I sat down with him when he was going to Def Jam. He put out an opportunity in front of me. Atlantic did, but Jive was offering the most money, so we went with that.”

Papoose explains how top-of-the-line lawyers helped him walk away with $1.5 million and The Nacirema Dream:

“As far as getting off the label, when we went over there, we hired the best lawyers. And we put something into my deal which was a guaranteed release close. It was such a thing that if they didn’t release my album by a certain time, they had to let me go, release the music, and the money. So it came beneficial for me when they were moving slow with the project.

And then, there was a lot of people at the label that was hating when I got there. When I initially got signed into Jive, during the process of the signing I gained information that a lot of people at the label was upset that I didn’t go through it all. The president of the label actually signed me to the label because his son was a fan. When you get signed by the boss, it kind of cuts the middleman out. They not able to take money out of your budget or steal money out of your budget, so a lot of them were upset over that. And you know, a lot of them were making comments pertaining to me getting off the label.

But me getting out of there was a blessing, because they was moving slow with the project. I’m past that man. I got my own label right now. Distribution is in place, and I’m announcing the release date for my album real soon. So that’s my focus right now. It just feels good to finally be getting this album out. Yeah, it’s going to be a problem. It’s going to be a major problem out there.”

If Papoose could do it all over again:

“I live with no regrets. At the time I sat down with my team, and we made that decision to make that move so you really can’t say that you regret it. I learned from that experience, and I made some money in it. I made some money in that situation. I ain’t mad at it at all. When they came into the project, they had to add on. They made promises to add on, but they didn’t. That’s why artists be stuck on the shelf when they sign to a label because, you know, the label has to build them. They didn’t have to build Papoose. I was in the street building myself.”

What Papoose thinks about the word “buzz” and how he still is able to feed his family from it:

“When you come into the music business if you don’t get a buzz then, you know, you a failure. But if you fortunate to get a buzz that means that you did good as an artist so far. You did something good for yourself. Honestly, a buzz is not supposed to last forever. It’s basically when you got an audience that appreciates your music, that’s shock value. So when people say [laughter]…that’s not supposed to last forever.

So, when I came in the game and immediately the fans reacted, that’s was a blessing. I was fortunate to have that, but you would be a fool if you think that a buzz will last forever. Once I came in and my made that impact, “BOOM!” I continued to put out my music. A lot of people expected this album. So the situation with Jive…it kinda let a lot of the fans down that they didn’t get that album, because we promoted the HELL out of that album. But, I always put out music on the street level.

Sometimes when you go through different things in life, you got to put your priorities first. Not saying that music is not one of my priorities, but there’s a lot of things in my life that I had to tend to. A lot of dudes come in the game, and they never going to get a buzz. They just out here still moving around. The reason why I had that impact was from the work that I put in. But that’s not supposed to last forever. That’s supposed to die down after what happ…I just been cruisin’.

I feed my family off my music. So when you see me iced out, living in a condo I live in, driving the nice vehicle I drive, or feeding my babies, that’s all over my music. So, basically my buzz that I was able to gain back then…it proved to [help] me survive and take care of my family.”

Check out Papoose’s Most Hated Alive mixtape, which drops December 4 before his long-anticipated but yet-to-be-dated debut, The Nacirema Dream.

  • JimJames29

    Dayum. If he really walked away with that 1.5 …. why would he give a sh#t about not making it? Cause he’s not living the major-label-rap-star life? Who cares? He got his paper and he straight. Jive f#cked a lotta people careers up, just ask the clipse. Too bad for the fans but you get in this game to get a check, he can live of his advance for the rest of his life, I can respect that. Never was a huge fan but will definitely check a full album when it drops.

    • ItGoesDownINtheDM

      dont get it confused he aint walk away with 1.5 million in his pocket

  • johnblacksad

    “a guaranteed release close” …not tryin to be a pain, but ‘clause’

    • Yeah, but Fugg It, Pap got that put in!

      That was a win!
      1.5 to get shelved for a year & still eat off shows? Yeah! Winning!

  • johnblacksad

    Nice to get an explanation… he might get some of his buzz back if the release date is real this time

  • Truth Powell

    Pap was a casualty in the war against real hiphop. He speaks so much truth and education in his lyrics that people got scared. He makes Jay-Z the supposed “greatest rapper alive” look elementary. His album was supposed to have production from DJ Premiere, Alchemist, Kanye, Dr.Dre, and HEATMAKERZ basically it was gonna be some shit. I wonder how many of those old tracks are gonna make the new album and if they’ll ever be released.

    • imaman2012

      If homles was so educated and about his grind why did he sign with a major?

      it’s much easier now to be indy.

      think back to the cats who did it out the trunk literally…that’s hustling

      youtube/itunes/social media

      you don’t need a major.

      • ItGoesDownINtheDM

        back when pap got hot youd’d probably have a diff state of mind … to see it today its easy to look back and say that ……..

      • Truth Powell

        You need the backing of a major in some way to become a nationally known act and be on major radio and tv outlets. Not every artist cares for that sort of exposure but some do and to get on that level thats what you need.

      • 1.5 to get shelved?
        Fugg A trunk pop!

        Still, it was a veteran move for a first timer!

  • YungKizz

    papoose is so underrated and he still gettin money

  • Ojay Juice Henry

    time to go listen to the alphabet slaughter!!!! never heard anything like it the word play is crazy and that skills, cant bite that shit.

  • He is witout a doubt da greatest rapper of all time without a album out and dats sayin a lot he is also greater than a lot of your favorite rappers wit 4 or 5 albums out. Dis guy wuz like the second comin of jesus rap wise at 1 point he embodies the epitmy of mcing hands dwn he is n my top 5 dead or alive I’m not riding his johnson I’m just giving props 2 hip hops greatest what if he is like a modern day big l and big pun all in one I dnt no another rapper out today dat deserves just critical acclaim and praise I alwayz wonder y jay z never reached out 2 sun I think bar 4 bar he could wash hov up even n his prime

    • Bumpy Johnson

      2 words ..BIG L

      • don c

        big L was signed and put out at least one major label LP

  • when he’s over banging beats, hes a monster… even over average beats, he still rock… but for every one hot joint, he rapping on 3 garbage beats…. and thats what made me lose interest…. go see the alchemist and you’ll be right back in the spotlight.

  • hosue batter

    papoose papoose the negga is the best rapper without and album can’t wait for that nacirema dream to drop i’m sure is most hated alive will be a banger

  • D. Rose in the paint

    Flashback is still my shit!!! One of th sickest cuts ever!

  • i’mreloaded!

    I remember Papoose. He was ok but I think his timing was just a little off. He had a buzz back when 50, Ye, and Em were at the top of the game and the South was really takin off. I just believe he wasn’t in the right label situation and to be honest he sounded like every other ny rapper at the time. Not to take away from his talent, it just wasn’t his time. Shoulda went to the Dips when he had a chance.

  • TT

    wow I am surprised you guys are actually still fans and giving dude props. I thought yall wouldnt mess with him since he literally just disappeared.

    Never knew much about pap bar Alphabetical slaughter but signing with Jive should have been a no no considering thats not really a hip hop label and probs didnt know what to do with him. He should have taken less and gone to def jam or something.

    That said to STILL be living off that money 6/7 years later I mean he gets my props for being financially sensible.

    • Guest

      so basically you’re telling us to hate Papoose? He never disappeared, he got the most mix tapes out on the streets do ya homework.. 25 mixtapes and 2 world tours.. When he drops the album that will be the 2nd coming.

  • Why yall tripping over 1 album if he gave yall 25 mixtapes.. He puts more work in than most of these industry dudes.. Yall just looking for a reason to hate.

  • This album is never coming out. It’s like the mythical Detox.

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