Papoose is on pace to have the biggest year of his career as he expands his brand into new arenas. The Brooklyn rapper and his wife Remy Ma have signed on to join the next season of the hit show Love & Hip Hop: New York. The extra exposure on VH1’s reality series will surely draw new followers to the couple, but the TV drama is not side tracking Pap from his first love of making music.
The Bed-Stuy emcee is all set to drop his sophomore studio album You Can’t Stop Destiny this week. The follow-up to 2013’s well received The Nacirema Dream includes features from Remy, Troy Ave, Ty Dolla Sign, AG, Maino, and Red Cafe. Papoose also recruited production wizards DJ Premier, Ron Brownz, Havoc, Showbiz, DJ Tip, G.U.N. Productions, and Gemcrates to provide the soundscape for YCSD.
AllHipHop.com spoke with Papoose about his new project and more. In part one of the exclusive interview, the independent artist shares his thoughts on the “New York Hip Hop sound” and his claims of being a better lyricist than fellow BK representative Jay Z.
Can you talk about the concept for the album title? Was there any particular message you’re trying to convey with this project?
Yeah, definitely. Just sending the message out that you might have ambitious goals to accomplish and certain people may try to get in your way. That message is there on a positive note. For those other people that are on the hating side, you can’t stop destiny.
Whatever you’re destined to be in life, you’re going to be that. Can’t nobody prevent that. That’s basically the message of the album and the title – regardless of who or what, you can’t stop destiny.
How old are you in the picture on the cover?
I was about 13 years old in that picture, around 13 ½.
I think the image conveys the message you were just saying – seeing you as a teenager and then knowing where your life would go.
Right, you can see when I was young, I was still on my Hip Hop sh*t. That’s what I was destined to do. At the end of the day, can’t nobody stop that.
Speaking of Hip Hop sh*t, I listened to the album. For me, it’s always cool to hear DJ Premier’s scratches on a record. A lot of people consider him one of the greatest – if not the greatest – Hip Hop producers ever. You guys have worked together before. What is it like working with him?
It’s an honor. growing up as a fan of Hip Hop, it was always one of my dreams to work with Premier. I wouldn’t have done an album without having him on it. He was on my first album, so I wouldn’t do an official project without having him part of it.
I feel like you had to be a high caliber emcee to get a Premier track. You had to be really nice. That’s what he always represented to me. A real, true emcee with a real official producer coming together. For me, Prem is the East Coast Dr. Dre.
You also released the track “Mobbing” with Troy Ave. Havoc produced that track. There’s three NYC reps on that song, and each one kind of represents a different era. You have Havoc from the 90’s, you came up in the 2000’s, and Troy Ave who represents the 2010’s.
We’ve seen a lot of New York City collaborations in recent years. Even Troy had several NYC rappers on his new album. In the prior decade, it felt like the city was competing against each other. Some people believe that’s why the south rose at that point.
First and foremost, I think great music is timeless. It’s not that Havoc represents an era, I represent a different era, and Troy Ave represents a different era. You get put in that time capsule when you have a limit to your music. I feel like if you’re great at it, that sh*t is timeless. A Havoc beat is timeless. It can play now, back then, and in the future. The same with myself and Troy Ave.
I don’t think because artists weren’t collaborating is why other regions got in position. I think other regions got in position because the people that are in power in our city wanted to be followers. When you go to those other regions – the weather, the food, and the music you hear makes you feel like you’re in that city.
When you come to New York – the weather and the food make you feel like you’re in New York. But when you turn on the radio it makes you feel like you’re in the south. You see how that works? That’s just the truth.
When I’m in [Atlanta], I feel like I’m in the A. When I’m on the West Coast, I go get some Roscoe’s, I enjoy that good weather, and I turn on the radio and hear West Coast music. In New York we lost that. Some people who were in positions of power started following. And not just the radio, some of the artists started rapping like they’re from other regions.
That’s cool. We all have to support each other across the globe, but we can’t lose the foundation of who we are. We still have to support our own, and I think that’s where it’s f*cked up at. It affected everybody. The clubs, the DJs, everybody took a hit, because n*ggas weren’t supporting their own.
A$AP Rocky did an interview where he was saying he doesn’t necessarily know if there is even a “New York sound” anymore, because of the internet and people’s ability to hear styles from all over the world. Do you think there is even a “New York sound” anymore?
Hell yeah, it’s a New York sound. As time goes on, it’s young New Yorkers coming up who give you that feeling of being in New York. Of course, there’s a New York sound.
It’s cool to be versatile. You gotta be versatile. But the foundation of what you are when you’re talking in your interviews, you can’t fake that. These dudes imitate down to the tee. It’s not just about music. It’s everything as a package.
Of course, there’s a New York sound. Bobby Shmurda had a New York sound. When you heard Bobby Shmurda, you heard Brooklyn. He put a little twist to it, but he still had a New York feel. You heard the New York slang. These cats are sounding like they’re straight from somewhere else.
You don’t gotta be super lyrical to have a New York sound, but you can still have that New York feel to it. When somebody from New York hears it or someone from out of town that’s been here, they identify it as, “Wow, that’s that New York sh*t.” There’s always gonna be a New York sound.
I was listening to the “Illuminati” track. You didn’t mention any names on there. But in my view, it felt like some of those lines were directed at Jay Z. Especially knowing that you’ve have had some things to say about him in the past.
You took issue with him wearing the Five-Percent Nation medallion. You did an interview with VladTV where you said you felt like you’re at a better lyrical level than him. So I’m just going to ask you straight up. Were there any lines on that song that were shots directed at Jay?
None of that is accurate though. If you look at the Vlad situation, I never said nothing about him wearing the 5% medallion. I said that’s a good thing that he’s wearing that. I said we embrace that. But when we have these “Show & Prove” events every year for the kids in the neighborhood, I would love to see him out there.
“Show & Prove” is an event Nation of Gods does where kids come out and have a good time. Artists come out like myself, Kay Slay, and the list goes on. We had one at the Apollo, and a lot of artists came out.
Did you or anyone in the Five-Percent Nation have a conversation with him?
What I’m saying is, I said I would love to see him there. If you’re wearing the flag, I would assume you know what’s going on within the cypher. I would assume you would at least take interest and find out what’s being done on the productive side of it. I didn’t say we had a problem with him. I said we embrace that.
As far as me taking shots at him, I did an interview. At the very end of the interview the guy’s asking me, “Do you think you’re the best?” I said, “Of course I am.” Who’s not gonna say they’re the best?
He said, “Do you think you’re better than a lot of rappers?” I said, “Yeah.” He asked, “Even Jay Z?” I said, “Yeah.” So he only took that one part of the interview, and made that the headline. When he made that the headline, everybody went crazy like, “Ooh, he said he’s better than Jay Z.” It wasn’t even about him.
That’s when I made the track [“Current Events”] where I rapped, “I said I’m better than Jigga, cause I’m better than Jigga.” You’re supposed to have that confidence and be competitive. People can take it how they wanna take it. I don’t sit around and think about Jay Z. I don’t give a f*ck about that. I’m focusing on my endeavors.
Part two of Papoose’s exclusive interview with AllHipHop.com will be published later this week.
Papoose’s You Can’t Stop Destiny is scheduled for release on July 17. Pre-order the album on iTunes.