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.