Papoose: Study Guide

After nearly a decade in the trenches, the unwavering support of the likes of DJ Kay Slay and Busta Rhymes, and a devout following that extends from Brooklyn to the UK and beyond, Papoose already has the stripes of a hip hop notable. Boasting a $1.5 million dollar deal with Jive, the Bed Stuy rapper has plans to parlay the respect he has earned from paying dues into industry success. With the ever-elusive nature of a buzz to contend with, much of Papoose’s ability to reach the masses will depend on the release of his long-awaited debut, the Nacirema Dream. Distinguished by an unusual degree of patience that enabled him to turn down many a record deal, Papoose is on an uncompromising career trajectory with one lofty goal in mind: to make history. The self-described Most Lyrical One politicked with about his impact and You just got back from a tour in the UK, how was that experience?Papoose: I was shocked to see that people had so much appreciation and so much respect for my music in a place where I’d never been in the flesh. [I was] seeing people passing out and everything, it was crazy out there, literally ambulances had to come get them. I feel like my hard work was definitely appreciated. Sometimes you don’t always feel appreciated, but when I went over there, they gave it up for me. How have things changed for you since you signed the deal with Jive?Papoose: Everything more or less changed, before everything was for the street, that was my mentality. I recorded everything and put it straight to the street, as opposed to when I’m doing my album, and I’m recording and saving joints. So it’s burning a hole in my pocket, before I had the freedom to put stuff out on impulse whenever I felt like it but now, it’s a whole different ballgame. And I think certain people in the industry have a different respect for me now that I’m a signed artist, that’s just how they mentality works. But at the same time, true Hip-Hop heads and the streets will always look at me in the same way. It just changed on the business level, that’s Now that you’re on, what is the game plan?Papoose: Basically the plan is to get the Nacirema Dream out there and reach the population of the world. I just want to be heard, I want to make history. A lot of people are in this for different reasons, but at the end of the day, I want to make history. And the more people I can reach and spread my word, I’ll feel like I was successful. Twenty years from now, if the kids going to remember Papoose, I’ll feel like I was successful. A lot of these artists, they not going to be remembered years down the line. And that’d be a nightmare, my whole career would be in vain. I feel like I make the type of music that’s timeless, I feel like years from now people are going to remember me. Seven figure deals don’t come often these days, how did the deal with Jive go down?Papoose: When me and Kay Slay was grinding, a lot of different labels started offering deals. Labels like Interscope, Atlantic, Def Jam, they all came to the table and we were turning them down because they wasn’t the deals that we wanted. I think a lot of artists, when they unsigned, and they on the mixtape scene or on the streets, they be so thirsty that the first deal they get offered they jump on it, but the impact that I made was so strong, I was doing better than artists that were signed on the record labels without me being signed to a label. So in the beginning we wanted to get a deal, but after a while, when I was coming out on Summer Jam, I did the BET Awards, I was in a lot of magazines, I was on paid shows all over the world, so after awhile we was like, “You know what, record label for what?” So when they was making these offers that were sub-par, these f**ked up offers they was coming at us with, we was like, “Nah, man.” Some of these labels think that just because of the title of the label, everybody should sign for anything. But if the business wasn’t right, myself and Kay Slay turned them down. So eventually Jive came to the table with a 1.5 million dollar deal, and we couldn’t resist it. We got creative control, and a lot of the other things they had in the contract that met our demand. You’ve turned down many deals in the past, too- you seem to have been very careful throughout your career…Papoose: I’m going to be real with you, that’s been true. Even from day one, when I was working with [Kool] G Rap and I put out a twelve-inch on Select Records, they offered me a deal for eigh albums way back then and I turned it down. The whole music thing is my dream, so if my dream is coming to reality, and it’s not manifesting as what I always dreamed it to be, I’m hesitant about that. You’ve mentioned a release clause piece to the deal, is Jive sticking to that for Nacirema Dream?Papoose: Yeah, definitely, the only thing that’s been holding up my project… When I first got signed, me and Kay Slay had the album done and we was ready to go, but when you got producers like Scott Storch, Jazze Pha, and all these other big name producers saying, “I got music for you,” you’d be an idiot to say, “Oh I’m done already.” So we had to take things into consideration and go back in, and also sample clearances held the album up big time. That’s the only thing that has held up my project, but other than that, we ready to go, How involved has Kay Slay been with the album?Papoose: Just as much involved as me. Kay Slay been devoted time, energy, blood sweat and tears just like I did. Kay Slay is like a big brother to me as opposed to a business partner. We business partners but at the same time we family, our bond is real You’ve said in rhyme that a mixtape award means more to you than a Grammy, is that still how you feel?Papoose: In all actuality, it does. ‘Cause when you coming from the street, whatever neighborhood you came from, your first thought of being successful in music before you ever had any success was always focused on the gutter, the ground, the grime- the essence of Hip-Hop. Everything else like the Grammys and all that was always cool, but you can’t spit a Grammy-award winning verse on the street in a battle ‘cause you wasn’t even thinking about winning a Grammy when you first started, you was just thinking about square one. I just feel like the mixtape awards to me, yeah, they mean more than a Grammy, that’s the essence right there. That’s the first award that I ever received, and it meant a lot to me. I was real proud of On the “Publicity Stunt” record, you separate yourself from a lot of artists who court drama, and you do seem to keep a low profile. Is that a conscious thing?Papoose: Yeah, I never had to do that. I didn’t come up like that, I feel like Hip-Hop music should be based upon Hip-Hop music. Not how tough you is or how much money you got. A lot of dudes, they try to start a fire just to get everybody’s attention and make everybody look. Most of these beefs that they come up with, they phony, they only cause their beefs to get attention. I never had to do that to make people focus on my music because I came with pure talent. So I just did all lyrics, no gimmicks and it worked for me. I never had to make a phony beef with nobody, so you see what it is, you already know my reputation and my history. My buzz was built off pure Seems like with the Uncle Murda situation, you stayed quiet.Papoose: Yeah definitely, actions speak louder than What’s your take on Remy Ma’s situation?Papoose: Innocent until proven guilty, innocent. You need to write a “Law Library” for her.Papoose: “Law Library” is definitely important for anybody that have a run-in with the law. Has anyone ever come up to you and said “Yo, “Law Library” helped me get out of a situation”?Papoose: Hell yeah, a lot of people. I get a lot of responses about “Law Library.” People thank me for that record continuously, constantly, they always ask me, “When’s the next part coming out?” A lot of brothers who are incarcerated, they write letters. A lot of people in the streets, they tell me ‘That record got me out of jail, or “That record prevented me from going to jail,” so I feel proud for making that happen. That’s what music is about. That’s the strength of music. People use it for so many different things man, but there are so many different ways you can use music to help somebody. A lot of people like the Hip-Hop police, they think that all Hip-Hop is negative. They don’t look at things like “Law Library,” or “Mother Nature,” when I talk about the disaster of Hurricane Katrina. But when they get my album, oh my goodness, I can’t wait. Do you feel like you get full recognition for how deeply you go into those issues, and the level of detail and accuracy?Papoose: I get scrutiny for that, I get hated on for what I do. People more or less try to go against it before they ride with it and appreciate it. But that’s cool. I do this from the heart. I feel like some of the songs I created were ahead of their time like “Alphabetical Slaughter,” I had that record since ’98, without a doubt that record was ahead of its time. I’m not here to toot my own horn, but if I don’t say nothin’, they act like it was never Were you at all influenced by the Nation of Gods & Earths growing up? Because you can hear some strains of it in your music. Papoose: Most definitely. I grew up in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, and the God Born True gave me knowledge of self, R.I.P. to him. He was really instrumental in my life, he wanted to see me be successful at what I was doing; he dedicated his time and everything in his power to make that happen. So it broke my heart that he didn’t even get to see me be successful in this music. There were people who wanted to see me make it, but how can I celebrate it, they died early, so in their eyes, I never made it. That’s the brother Born True, I speak a lot about him in my music, he let me know where I come from as a Black man, and where I can go in the future.