UK Exclusive With Papoose, From Hood To Hood It All Stays The Same

Hiba Hassan

By Hiba Hassan

Hiba Hassan

20 Sep 2022

Beginning his career in Brooklyn, New York, Papoose has been a rapper in the game for decades now. Self-belief has always been at the forefront of what he does, self-releasing singles and mixtapes for years, that went against the step-by-step guide put in place by labels. In 2021, Papoose chose to reject that formula and release an album every month for the entire year, a way of displaying the reinvention of what old-school rappers can do against the new age artistry.

Speaking to Mixtape Madness on the set of the music video for ‘Groundwork’, with Big Narstie and Ed Sheeran, there is a sense of great admiration between all three artists who collectively have decades of experience in music but from different angles. Albeit, it sounds like a random link-up but for Papoose, London is a home away from home, so it was only right this song came about. Ed Sheeran a long-time Papoose fan, came across the rapper from a Skins episode and Narstie a friend, the shoot took place in Edmonton, London, and brought out some of our favourite influencers from around the UK.

Papoose has been a staple artist for generations now, and with that comes an immense amount of trial and error for what works. Sharing advice on what works for newer artists, working with both Ed Sheeran and Big Nartsie to trying his first ever Magnum, Papoose sits down with Mixtape Madness for a UK Exclusive…

How long have you been in London and I’m guessing it’s not your first time here either?

No, not my first time here at all. I’ve only been here a day, just a quick trip. I have a show coming up in Pennsylvania, with myself, a few other artists, and my wife [Remy Ma].

How did your relationship with Narstie come about? Even though it feels random we know it’s not.

Ah man, I flew here to take part in his television show a while back. And we just clicked from the moment we met you know. Real recognise real. And ever since then we have been homies.

How did this song come about?

I came down to do the Big Narstie Show, and he expressed to me that he was always a fan of my music, which is inspirational to me alone. When I meet people that are supportive of what I do, it means I got to work harder because I’ve got people I can’t let down. So, he expressed to me he was a fan and I had heard his name a lot over the years, but I didn’t really hear all of his music, but I respect what I did hear. So, it felt right to get in the studio together. We were in the studio in London, smoking, and drinking, it was an old-school-style studio session.

What’s your go-to drink?

Hennessy or Dom Perignon.

Mixer or no mixer?

No mix, when I was poor it was Hennessy and now I have a couple of dollars it’s Dom P.

We know! Do you have a go-to place in London?

I like it over here as a whole. I actually toured over here many years ago, I loved it. coming from the states and coming here physically and having so many people know who you are and your music, that was a hell of an experience for me.

Being from Brooklyn, people love to make the comparison between the two. Do you see any similarities or differences between them?

Yeah, I do, there’s a hood everywhere. Even Big Narstie, just hearing his story and how he grew up is very similar to my story. I feel at home, I feel at home in any ghetto because it’s all the same.

Are there any artists in the UK that you want to work with or are liking what they’re doing at the moment?

There are so many artists that I’ve been hearing from here, even on the way here in the car I’m like ‘who’s that’ all the time. Because sometimes when you come from a certain place you got to be careful because to can put yourself in a box and think that talent only comes from where you’re from. And the truth is, there are artists in so many regions that are just as talented, you just got to give them a chance and understand their lingo. Once you understand their lingo and their slang then you’ll get it.

I’m hearing a lot of music that I respect from over here.

Image by Jack Stangaard [@stan_a_gram]
Last year, you released an album every month, what was the reason behind that? And in terms of actually making the music, was that hard to do that so consistently?

Honestly, the reason why I did it was because you have to be careful when you’re in the music business. Because you’ll follow too carefully the music industry’s format, and that format doesn’t work for everyone, when you’re a new artist you can’t release music the same way the bigger artists do, you have to find what works for you. The bigger artists have to get approval and then put out a single, then they have to wait months down the line to announce their album.

That doesn’t work for smaller artists, you have to work twice as hard as them. I came to that realisation and I didn’t want to follow that format, I created my own way. I have the ability to release music consistently, so why not do that? And people did try to discourage me, my distributor turned their back on me and it was actually the best thing I ever did. I ended up with a lot of features from artists I respect, a lot of performances and I made a lot of money, so you have to follow your heart.

You mentioned that you have to do stuff differently as a new artist, being in the industry since the 90s, is that your message to them?

Yeah, be original, don’t follow. That format is not designed to work for you, that’s why it’s hard for them to make it. You’re trying to follow a game plan that works for people that are millionaires already. You have to figure out what works for you, whatever that is. Us, that have been in the game for a while, we have to reinvent ourselves, so that’s what I was doing.

Definitely, and that is so important. As our final thing, since you’re in London I want you to try a legacy of ours, Magnum, and tell me what you think.

You better not be setting me up ya’ll.

No, I love Magnum honestly, but there are mixed reviews. 

I know two things that’s called a Magnum, a pistol and you know what else…

Nah, this is a different kind of Magnum, it’s a tonic wine! It’s a creeper but gets you a nice waved.

Alright, I’m going to pop the seal [begins to drink] it’s good.

You can keep that one-

You know it’s good, I’m going for a second swig!