Rapper Papoose on the Power of Independence

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I’ve graced magazine covers, starred in reality shows, toured in countless countries, and been on billboards around the world–all because of the gift I’ve been blessed with. Yet, I don’t take these blessings for granted. I know the music that has changed my life is the same rhythm that is reshaping the world we all live in. So, I make sure to create songs like “Monopoly,” “Law Library,” and other tracks that tell the full scope of the human experience, because I know the impact my voice can have, and I want to use it to teach and inspire.

I began my career in the not-so-forgiving borough of Brooklyn. Although I always believed in my talent—self—releasing white-label singles and mixtapes for years—the gravitational pull of the streets had me on the verge of throwing it all away. Yet, right when I was about to fall into the gutter, I caught the attention of the late, great legendary DJ Kay Slay. Together, Slay and I laid the blueprint for my consistent release method. Kay Slay was the first person to have full faith in my gift. He became my mentor, big brother, and best friend. And we remained close until his untimely passing this past April.

But, being as Slay was my best friend and gateway into the industry, he had a lot of haters. Unbeknownst to me, people in positions of power were secretly sabotaging my career because of their animosity towards Slay. Yet, when your talent and intentions are pure, the universe will find a way to have your voice heard.

After three years of hand-to-hand grinding, my music got to the president of Jive Records, who signed me directly to the label via a $1.5 million deal. Although taking this deal proved to be the worst decision of my life, it ultimately made me even stronger and taught me to always bet on myself.

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In 2021, I came up with the idea of dropping an album once a month for the entire year. Almost everyone thought it was impossible to drop 12 albums in a year when I first presented them with my plan. They kept hitting me with the same, archaic way of releasing music: “You have to choose a single, then promote that single… You’re going to step on your own music… The project needs space to breathe…” Blah, blah, blah. I wasn’t trying to hear this. I was hell-bent on bringing this plan to fruition. I truly believed that I should be able to release my music at the same rate I create it because I knew that what I was saying could change the world.

My distributor at the time was so frightened by going against the grain that they turned their backs on me. They shut me out, leaving me on my own to bring my dreams to life. But, when everyone else slammed their doors in my face. I was lucky to discover TuneCore, the only distributor that allowed me to share my music at such a high rate. Giving me this freedom allowed me to make history by becoming the only artist to release an album a month for a whole year, and that helped me gain support from genre giants like Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Swizz Beatz, Fabolous Timbaland, and others. I realized that TuneCore truly has love for its artists and is the best place for artists like me who love to create consistently.

Working with companies that exist to support artists has paid off for me: I get to do what I love, how and when I want to do it. These days, I’m feeling like I’m right where I should be, with the respect of music legends. When I met Jay Z he complimented my competitiveness. Nas once offered to sign me. We also did a song together! Having an uncompromising spirit permeates all areas of my life. Yeah I’m a rapper, but I’m a father and a husband first. My family is the most important thing to me and I want to encourage all you young artists and music creators starting out to value the women, and kids in your lives. They’re who inspire me, so I can inspire you. Remaining true to yourself, believing in your abilities, and always balancing the good with the bad, and ultimately pulling out the positivity in every situation–that’ll get you far. It has for me.

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