Papoose Turned Down Kanye West Beats To Release The Nacirema Dream
Just under a decade ago, Papoose was going to save New York City hip-hop. Or at least that's how rap folklore likes to parse it, with Bed-Stuy's mixtape phenomenon Pap and upstate NY rapper Saigon being the hometown figures who were going to stop the Southern ascent and bring back virtuous street-corner-wrought lyrical skills. Except despite signing a megabucks $1.5 million deal with Jive, Papoose's debut studio album, The Nacirema Dream, was perpetually shelved and held back until he eventually parted ways with his label. Now he's finally in a position to release the record to the world -- so we checked in with Pap to find out what happened with the delay and why, despite the album's troubled gestation period, he's confident to claim it a classic.
See also: The Seven-Year War Of Saigon
How do you feel now that The Nacirema Dream is finally getting a release?
I'm very excited, man. I'm ecstatic, that's the word!
Was there a point where you thought that this day would never come?
No, I never thought that. I mean, there was a point where I thought it might be a long wait, but I'm invincible.
So how much of the album you're releasing has its roots in the music you recorded for Jive?
There's 20 tracks on the album and two are skits. The concepts have their roots way back, so the concept of the album remains the same and a small portion of the record goes back to then, but everything else is updated and it's been remixed and remastered and changed around.
Why wouldn't Jive release the album?
Um, it was a lot of politics. A lot of music business politics got in the way of talent and dedication. Show business really is 95% business and 5% is about the show. The business part and the politics of the game kinda got in the way. A lot of people were hitting me with ideas about doing this and that and got in the way. I can't really blame them -- I blame myself for letting it happen.
How did you feel while this was going on?
I was upset, frustrated, annoyed.
Did you ever consider leaking The Nacirema Dream?
Nah, I never let it leak and I'm glad I didn't. There's certain songs that I kept in the vault 'cause I knew I'd have an opportunity to let the world hear them. There's a couple of records on the album that may have escaped, but I never would put the entire record out there.
When you say people were hitting you with ideas, do you mean they were trying to get you to go in a more commercial direction?
Did you contemplate going in that direction?
No. I wouldn't. All major labels do that. I think that when you sign to a record label and you're a certain type of artist, you're supposed to be creative and talk about different topics and be creative and speak from your heart. So you have to listen to yourself as an artist. I wasn't going to change -- I had that right to be an artist.
Did you get to keep all of your advance?
Oh, I kept all of the money they gave me!
What did you do with it?
I invested it.
I invested into real estate.
How did that work out?
It worked out well. I'm okay. The money's doing well.