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Hailing from Brooklyn, New York; Papoose is a legend in the rap game. Making his debut as an artist on Kool G Rap’s classic 1998 album Roots of Evil, the East Coast spitter creates records like no other.
This year, with the Black Lives Matter movement still in full swing, he released his most introspective project to date, Endangered Species. The project showcases the importance in Black love, Black culture, and Black excellence.
REVOLT caught up with Papoose to discuss his take on Black Lives Matter, fulfilling his dreams working with Preemo, the 2020 election, his relationship with Diddy, and accidentally revealing a second baby with wife Remy Ma, and more.
Endangered Species out now! How are you feeling?
To be honest with you, I’m feeling great. Really, really, really great. Insanely great because it seems like a lot of people are enjoying it. N. 7 on the iTunes Hip Hop chart, I’m extremely happy about that.
Why are you an endangered species?
Real, true artists are an endangered species nowadays. It’s very rare to see a real artist who’s genuine, [and] passionate about the music. Considering everything going on in society, the pandemic, police brutality, all of our people are an endangered species.
What does it mean to be a strong Black male in America?
It means you’re on the right path. You can actually protect your family and be a good, positive role model for your family. Being a strong Black man as opposed to being a weak Black man. It means and signifies a lot. It sets an example for your children moving forward in life, for people who look up to you and say, “You know what? This is somebody I want to be like when I grow up.”
As someone with a platform, how can you continue to push the narrative?
Definitely being honest. We all have our platforms, we all work hard for our platforms. We aren’t forced to provide our platforms all the time, but there are moments in life when you have to take out time to dedicate your platform to others because it’s really important. A situation doesn’t have to directly effect you, but it can effect someone else and your platform can be very instrumental in creating awareness and letting people know “this is something we should be speaking out as people.” It’s strength in numbers.
What does Black health mean to you?
Human health is very important as a whole because at the end of the day, we’re all neighbors on this planet. If I’m taking care of myself and my environment, [but] you’re polluting it and not taking care of yourself, we’re sharing this planet together. Eventually, I’m going to be contaminated with the unhealthy things that you’re doing. All of us got to be considerate to each other and live a healthy life. Living healthy is very important. You might put 10 or 15 more years on your life by getting proper rest, eating vegetables, exercising. Exercising is extremely important. You’d be surprised how many illnesses you have that will go away if you exercise for a long period of time. It’s important to take care of yourself and maintain health, definitely.
Off the rip on “Billionaire,” you say, “I had my fun already I’m doing this for my kids.” What’s Papoose like today compared to when you entered the rap game in the early 2000s?
When I entered the rap game, I was a bad guy. I was young, I was fresh off the streets. I’d been in the streets for so long around that time. I was hungry, I was eager to get into the rap game — so eager that I built the mentality if anybody gets in my way, I’m going to trample ‘em. It wasn’t just me, I had people around me with the same mentality. We were young and dangerous. The music business puts up a lot of the barricades because a lot of people don’t want to see each other win. It was dangerous for guys like us to come off the street and come into a place where people like to hate and block — don’t want to see you grow. I wouldn’t say I was ignorant, but I wasn’t educated on a lot of things. I had knowledge of self, but my drive and my anxiety to get off of the streets was dangerous. Now I’m more comfortable in life, I’m in a better space mentally.
Did you ever think you would be where you are today?
No. Honestly, my mind was get rich or die tryin’. That’s a saying 50 Cent made his own, but that was my mentality. That’s why that was a classic album, too, because a lot of people feel like that. I definitely saw myself being a big artist though, I saw myself being huge! When certain things started to take place that were getting in my way, oh no we gotta push back. Did I see myself how I am today? No. I’m a nice guy today (laughs).
You say, “You rappers are always punching in.” What’s your creative process?
Sometimes when I’m in my car driving, I create a train of thought. I turn on the camera and I challenge myself to be consistent with that train of thought. In the studio, I do the same thing. I love hip hop so much. I love the craft, I take it so serious. I like to be humble, but my love for it allows me to go in the booth and do one take. I’ve been in the studio with rappers — I’m not going to say no names — but it takes them six hours to lay one verse.
How was it collaborating with Preemo?
Oh man, it’s a dream come true. As a kid, I always wanted to work with Preemo. Now, he’s my friend. I’ve accomplished a lot of my dreams in life for real. Working with Preem was one of my childhood dreams.
Did you learn anything from working with him?
I learned a lot. He’s a perfectionist. He doesn’t allow anyone to rush his process, he doesn’t care who it is. I’ve seen him do records with your favorite rappers, if he’s not ready [for] creating and he doesn’t catch a vibe, he’ll postpone that session.
How important was it to use live instruments? Especially on songs like “Boxcutter.”
Very important. Being a lyricist, I take a lot of time out with my lyrics. I put a lot into it, so I wanted to work with a musician who was equally as passionate about making a beat as I am about making my rhymes. Over the years, I got a lot of compliments. But, some people criticize me, saying, “Pap’s a very good artist, but sometimes he uses wack beats.”
They said that about Nas too though.
I know! When I was younger, I was way more stubborn. “Aw that’s them, who cares what they say?” This time, I wanted to get with a real musician, so that even if somebody says they don’t like the beat, they can’t say it’s not quality. Regardless of who or what, it’s quality production on this album. Nobody can deny that. As far as Nas, somebody told me he picks wack beats on purpose because he wants people to hear his lyrics.
How was it appearing on “REVOLT BLACK NEWS”?
Oh, it was amazing! I’m always honored when people call me for things like that. The fact that at those moments they’re like, “Let’s get Papoose,” I was honored.
What’s your relationship with Diddy?
We’re cool. Every time I see him, we still high-five. That’s a big deal coming from the hood, I was a fan of Bad Boy in high school. I don’t forget where I come from, so when I’m able to do things and accomplish certain things as a celebrity, it’s always a big deal to me. When I see Puff Daddy and he knows who I am, that’s a big deal to me... I remember he’s doing his dance. I was trying to copy it back in the days (laughs). He always shows me love.
Thoughts on this year’s election?
Oh man, it’s the lesser of two evils. I can’t say neither one of them are perfect, but we got to go with the lesser of two evils and Donald Trump has to go. I’m team Kamala Harris.
What do you like about Kamala?
I like things I’ve heard about her upbringing. Her parents met when they were marching together for civil rights, so I know part of her foundation understands what we’ve been through in this country as a people. A lot of people are angry with her from her career in prosecution, that’s a downside. Biden has some flaws on his record. None of us are perfect as human beings. If I had to compare them to that Trump administration? The guy that walks around with a fly on his head? This guy’s a racist.
It doesn’t matter what other walk of life you come from, this guy doesn’t like you if your skin isn’t like his. I don’t respect people like that. I’m definitely going with Kamala Harris and Joe Biden over Trump any day. Everybody should be clear on that. People that have platforms, be clear on who you’re voting for. There are a lot of undercover Donald Trump supporters. It is what it is.
How important is it to vote?
[It’s] very important to vote. Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, so many people sacrificed their lives so Black and Latinos could be able to vote. For us not to vote, we’re allowing them to die in vain.
How’s the family holding up during the pandemic?
We’re doing the best we can. We’re trying to benefit from the pandemic because we’re stuck in the house together so much, we eat together at the dinner table. Pandemic to a certain extent — even though so many people died and it was sad — it was a blessing in disguise. You get to know you’re loved ones better. We take it one day at a time. We enjoy each other as much as we can — making the best out of it.
How’s Remy holding up?
She’s great. She’s been doing some work herself. Working on a couple television shows, she’s buying a lot of property. She likes to do a lot of projects and experiments. She’s working on some music.
And she’s preggers right?
Basically she can’t have children the natural way, so we have to go through a process called in vitro. When I made that announcement that she was pregnant, when I opened my big fat mouth that she’s having a baby, it was because we actually started the process of having a baby. I was so excited that I opened my big fat mouth. We actually had to hit the brakes on having the next baby for some personal reasons, we put it on hold for a while.
Was she like “damn it, Papoose”?
She said, “What the hell’s going on? What is everyone saying I’m pregnant?” Umm, maybe because I said it earlier… She’s like, “What, you told them?!” I said, “I’m sorry, I was excited.”
Can you rank the verses of “Touch It Remix”?
Wow, you not gonna do that to me. I love all those people too much. There’s too many legends on that record, everybody’s verse was fire. A lot of people give me compliments, but there’s no way I’m better than those legends. You’re talking Mary J. Blige, DMX, Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, Lloyd Banks, everybody killed it. I’m sorry, I’ma punk out of that one.
Anything else you want to let us know?
I want to say thank you to everybody. My album’s out. We’re already on the iTunes charts, but it’s not all about that. That’s not why I made music. I make music to inspire people. The fact that it is charting is good because I want the population of the world to hear my music, my concepts, my ideas. Everybody who bought the album, thank you. Everybody who didn’t buy it, you really should buy this project. I dedicated my life to hip hop. You’re hearing from someone who really studied and is knowledgeable with what he’s doing, and pays attention to what’s going on in the world. My music’s inspired by life experiences... Endangered Species!