Mona Scott is one of the most legendary business women in the history of hip-hop. Beyond her career as a talent manager, she has built a formidable TV producing empire. Love and Hip-Hop is her brain child and the platform has served as a vehicle to impact several other industries economically. Beyond being a platform to serve advertisers with eyeballs, she develops talent that become mega stars. Cardi-B comes to mind, along with Remy Ma. Remy is married to Papoose and they are a very successful power couple in Hip-Hop culture. Papoose built his own brand based on his lyrical quality and rhyming prowess. He was quite formidable on the underground music circuit in New York city. His back story on the show however is his branding of “Black Love”. He reversed the usual trend on Black women supporting their men during their time of incarceration. Papoose was dedicated and loyal to Remy Ma during her incarceration and that endeared him as a new age Black Man.
Papoose is a New York Legend who demolished mixtapes and with partner Kay Slay. They garnered a $1.5 million record deal with Jive Records for his debut album,The Nacirema Dream. He released several mixtapes with DJ Kayslay and his lyricism was unmatched by any. His relationship with his wife is documented on the hit TV series Love and Hip-Hop. Their relationship details are shared weekly with audiences and creates intense engagement on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Events like renewing their vows and announcing an addition coming to their family enhanced their Black Love brand with audiences. He changed the narrative and branding of strong black men thru the support of his then incarcerated spouse. He acquired a $1.5 Million recording contract after building his own brand thru the streets of New York. Prior to signing with Jive records he and Kayslay had partnered with NBA Legend Shaquille O’Neal. Shaquille O’Neal had Deja 34, his own record label.
Kayslay was instrumental behind the record label launch and Shaq promoted the pair as a $1 million partnership. Via our publication Owners Illustrated Magazine we were on hand for the unique partnership. Interesting thing about this partnership is that it was first known on the “Streets” in 2004. Getty Images will publish pictures in 2005 from the mainstream announcement in New York at hotel Paris. An added benefit of having Shaq back the project is you get the NBA’s quasi involvement. This partnership was prior to the deeper integration of NBA athletes and hip-hop culture. Shaq himself was a pioneer in this space as he recorded several gold albums while flourishing in his NBA career. Pairing with such a gifted wordsmith also solidifies Shaq’s credibility in the culture. Kayslay is a legendary DJ from New York, he is well known throughout the New York state prison system. Underground artist don’t normally sign such lucrative contracts. Major recording label prefer more commercially acceptable packaging.
HOW HE DID IT
We interviewed Papoose exclusively for Hustlenomics Magazine right after he signed his disruptive record deal.
In the early days of the hip-hop culture you had to be certified by a legend before you could be granted the privilege of rocking the mic exemplified by Kurtis Blow introducing Run (now Rev Run) and as such the quality of the music remained strong and artist were properly versed in the craftsman that is an MC. In the fashion that a young Khamal (Q-Tip) was introduced by the Jungle Brothers, and Leaders of the New School (Busta Rhymes) were introduced by fellow long Island native Public Enemy Papoose has been groomed by Kool G Rap, Schooled by Kay Slay, introduced b y Busta Rhymes and managed by Chris Lighty with this setup and a $1.5 million dollar deal from Jive records, the future of the New York sound is here, and like 50 cent and Lloyd Banks before him he has also won the Best Mixtape artist of the year award, in fact he won the last one official presented by Justo who unfortunately met his demise while on his grind driving late hours in VA. Pap has put in work and his 15 mixtape albums, pardon 16 and by the time you read this he will probably have added to that title can attest to the soul of a true hustler who has been determined to get the right price for his product and has been willing to put in the work to build up his value. It’s not about the deal it’s about how he can prosper and with lessons learned having been initially introduced by Kool G Rap in the late 90’s Pap was born for this. A supreme lyricist who’s story telling ability has produced motion picture quality unusual for the mixtape circuit like his tale about a Katrina victim, or his take on the hip hop police or his lessons for convicts on utilizing the law library, Papoose has a rare ability to draw the listener in and spark you higher consciousness effortlessly. What is amazing is the fact that he doesn’t even write anything down. This Bedford Stuyvesant native shares that ability with two other Brooklyn product Jay-Z and Biggie. Having put in work it is now time for Pap to reap the benefits and his success can only open doors for others in the rotten apple who seek an opportunity to display their multi-media wares in this new game where technology rules and great songwriting is a premium where you can generate revenues in multiple media as evident by Universal Music Group acquiring BMG’s entire catalog for $2.05 billion dollars. Pap’s ready here is part one in his own words here is his journey.
You been doing this for a minute but for those who ain’t seen the MTV You Heard It First, the BET First Up Look and all that just introduce ‘em to yourself and what this whole Thug-A-Cation movement about.
Basically, I go by the name of Papoose, the most lyrical one, born and raised in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. I been putting in a lot of work. The street’s is responding. Corporate market is responding. It’s a real big look right now so I think the world and the industry need to really brace their self for what’s about to go down. The title of my album is The Nacirema Dream. Thug-A-Cation is my organization, my family, my movement, and my understanding.
Alright now take us back man, cause some people thinking Pap a new artist beyond the fourteen mixtapes…Boyz in the Hood just hit the streets going crazy with the bootleggers. Take us back man to like ’98, ’99, you rolling with G Rap. He was putting his label together out of Arizona. You jumped on that album. Talk about that. How’d that even connect?
Yo, I was a problem back then, man. I was terrorizing back then in my neighborhood just putting in work, creating them real lyrics. Basically, Kool G Rap, a producer he was working with by the name of J Swift, was a good friend of mine…
Yeah, Swift is hot.
Yeah I had recorded a record called Above the Limits with two other artists and G Rap wound up hearing that record. He was like I want to meet this kid. So J Swift made the connection, shout out to J Swift. He made the connection. I came down. Sat down with G Rap, spit a couple cat’s heads off in front of G Rap…G respect that real lyricism then he put me on his album, Roots of Evil. We did a record called Home Sweet Funeral Home, crazy joint.
Lets talk about your travels in that era and what you were doing, grinding back then and which conferences you was hittin’. What was the moves you was making back in ’99, ’98?
I mean basically as far as music is concerned, man, what I was just doing was just coming up with ill lyrics and basically, I put together Alphabetical Slaughter back then. It was a record where I flowed from A to Z which was never done so superb, I mean in hip-hop history, hands down. Basically, I put that together and what I used to do back then was I used to just press up white labels. I pressed up a white label Alphabetical Slaughter which led to a single on Select Records.
Run DMC was at Select, too, right, at that time?
M.O.P. was over there too…But they tried to get me to do a album. They tried to sign me for eight albums, crazy album deal. I turned them down. I went back to the streets and started grinding. But I did various things back then. I used to do shows here and there. See the battle thing that cats is trying to do now I was terrorizing back then with that so I’m more or less past that. I was in the streets taking cats’ money with the battle thing. I was doing a lot of different things back then.
You bring I like to say a vintage flow, a vintage approach to emceeing, You know you had Biggie. He opened the door. Set it down. I mean really Big Daddy Kane. Kane, then Biggie which really was a connection, right ‘cause I mean Mister C, Kane DJ brought him in. Then you got Jay. But then all of y’all don’t even right, don’t write your lyrics down. And then, now you. And then with Jay’s formation it was like Brooklyn and Harlem connected and with you and K ay Slay it’s like Brooklyn and Harlem connecting again. Like talk about the heritage of the Brooklyn MC and just yourself, just your ability to write your, like to create songs without having to write ‘em down.
Basically, me creating songs without having to write ‘em down, I didn’t even know that was a talent, like that’s something that I always did. Like I practiced my craft so hard that, that s**t just became my form of creativity for the simple fact that some dudes would just sit down with a pen and a paper right now if I was sitting here right now trying to write a rhyme. I don’t feel like it’s enough in this environment for me to create a rhyme, you know so throughout the course of my day, as I would move around, I would create my rhymes as I was moving around throughout the course of my day, and I didn’t need a pen because my memory was so sharp. So whatever I came up with I would remember it and over the years I always did that. And I didn’t even know it was a talent until I started hearing Big say that’s what I do and I seen people like, ‘wow’. So I was like, damn I guess I got another talent, man because I did that from day one. I been doing that.
Where’d you get your influences from?
I’m influenced by the old school. I know y’all hear me say that a lot but that’s the honest truth, man. For the simple fact that when they attacked the mic back then it was only a handful of emcees that was nice back then. It was a lot of mc’s but only a handful was nice. And when they got on the mic, they attacked the mic. So I learned from them. So a lot of these dudes, they learning from, you know, idiotic teachers. That’s why they rap so wack. I learned from greats, man, like G Rap, Kane, when I was coming up I studied their music, man. I respected it. So for me to come on the mic I would come with no less, man. I always attacked the mic just like them. I came from that era where if you was rapping you had to be nice. If you was wack, you didn’t get no love or no respect. If you was a biter, you didn’t get no love or no respect and I was a little dude just analyzing all that. So I just took it in and it’s a part of me now, man.
Now what influence if any did Rakim have on you?
A lot of influence, man, Rakim, one of the greatest lyricist. Big Daddy Kane, he don’t get his just due, one of the greatest. G Rap as you was saying. Slick Rick, LL Cool J, the list goes on. I know I’m forgetting a couple of cats. Cats don’t mention dudes like Grand Daddy I.U.
Yeah, yeah, yeah It was a lot of cats even Ace from Brooklyn. Master Ace, he was killing em back then.
Yeah, list goes on, but I learned from the old school. You know back then it wasn’t only about spittin, man, it was about talent and it still is People just get it twisted sometimes.
Now talk about like your craft I mean the composing, word structure, metaphors, punch lines. But what grabs me the most that stays with me is when you compose stories like the one you did over the Hate It Or Love It beat. What inspired that?
That joint right there reflected on life, man. A lot of my lyrics, a high percentage of my lyrics reflect on life and I just speak about life experiences. But the lyrical part and the poetic part and you know my influence from the old school, it just helps me bring it out more. It gives you a better understanding. It gives me you know a better ability to give you the comparisons, So I might compare my rhyme to a magazine or Vitamin Water and I tell you why I use that metaphor so that’s what that gave me but the lyrics that he referred to that’s just a reflection of life.
And the one that really hit me is the Katrina joint you detailed the story and talked about the man and he has his wife dying. He got to save his child so he letting his wife just drown Like where’d you get the ability, it’s like you captured the emotion cause when I listen to it I always got to take it back like it’s a movie and you see it. It’s so visual.
Where’d you get those influences from?
Yo certain things, some of that is just natural, man. It’s God-given. Word up, man.
But it’s like an extra ability to be able to feel, because you ain’t from New Orleans but the way you diagrammed and painted the picture of the story I could understand.
Basically I’ma break it down for you. Like I always say man when you take a check from these labels and you signed to these labels you wear the title of artist, So if you consider yourself as or referred to as a artist you should be able to do that. You see how you said I’m not from New Orleans If you know the definition of a artist you supposed to be able to put yourself in the shoes of others, So me just lookin’ into the media and seeing how it was going down over there, you know, taking certain things that the media didn’t want us to see but showed us by accident, you know, in the process of showing us what they wanted us to see. With me having the knowlwdge to just look and say, oh, look at this though, they not speaking on this but they speaking on this. So I would just analyze things certain things that was going on in the media and I just spoke on it. I just put it into song format.
For yourself how do you view the whole hip-hop landscape, right now? What do you feel is missing? What’s your impression of what’s going down right now?
I’ma tell you, man, in my honest opinion, man. I studied this game for a long time, I made attempts to get in this game for a long time. I wouldn’t sit here and tell you it was easy or you know none of that phoniness. I studied this for a long time and throughout that process I practiced my craft, I worked hard at it. So me being in front of your camera, in front of BET, in front of MTV camera and opening these magazines, me sitting there, me waking up in the morning, my music is on the radio and my face is on the tube the game is missing nothing, man, you know what I’m saying, because I’m bringing all elements to the table. I’m not lacking nothing, man. I’m coming with everything, full 360 so me being present in the game and me studying the game all this time, the game is not lacking nothing right now. When my album come, it’s gonna be a full course meal, man.
Now, from your point of view what do you figure that you bringing into the game? What do you figure that you bringing into the game like Papoose, Thug-A-Cation what is your niche? What is your brand about?
Basically I’m bringing to the game man what all these other mc’s lack, man and that’s just a true story. Like you ain’t gonna see another Papoose, man for so many years. A individual like myself come along in this game years apart from each other, man. It’s gonna be a long time before y’all hear somebody like me that could talk about the streets and then talk about a incident like Katrina, you know and really do it to the fullest extent. So hands down, this is God-given man, and basically as far as the whole South movement and everything, I respect it. It’s not just about record sales like even Slay broke it down. Like y’all say the South is winning at the end of day artists like 50 Cent is outselling them, but it’s not just that. I was down there. I was out there, ATL. And I looked at it. I analyzed the party scene. It’s like they was just having more fun, man.
Where you think your work ethic came from?
Aw man, just loving hip-hop, loving the game, man. Without lights, camera, action, radio, magazine, I still would do this. I do this for real so it’s natural for me. While y’all dudes is trying to mimic and thinking this shit is mechanical, I’m doing it naturally. It’s nothing for me to make a song or sixteen bars. While your brain’s hurting, it’s nothing for me cause I do it natural. I do it from the heart. I feel like this is what I was born to do.
Papoose has 1.8 Million followers on Instagram and 180 K followers on Twitter. His wife Remy Ma has 7.5 M followers on Instagram and 434 K followers on Twitter. Instagram is a huge money generator for Facebook. A huge portion of the content that generates the eyeballs on Instagram in urban and hip-hop related. Shows like Love and Hip-Hop drive the discussion and power the engagement on the social media platforms. Instagram is projected to earn $14 Billion in revenue in 2019. Twitter just reported Q3 2019 earnings of $824 million. Nielsen just released a report on Black consumers in the USA. In the report they identified over 25 million African Americans are Millennials. Instagram reaches 45% of African Americans. African Americans are more receptive to television advertising by 23% over total population. This correlates to the impact of shows like Love and Hip-Hop and how consumers engage on social media and amplify the impact of their conversation.