Brooklyn rapper Papoose is a bit of an enigma. One the one hand, he has a pretty good pedigree which includes the 2005 Justo Mixtape Artist Award and a recently inked $1.5 million deal with Violator. On the other hand, I've combed through about 150 Papoose songs looking for some classics and I have yet to find anything truly memorable. Other than the notorious "Alphabetical Slaughter" track, which tries to take Saigon's "Letter P" to the next level, Pap has been incredibly, consistently boring.
Fortunately for Papoose, the tide seems to be turning in December, and just in time for the upcoming release of his LP Nacirema Dream. First, he launched an immediate and passionate (if not terribly artful) response to the NYPD police shooting of Sean Bell with "50 Shots," an angry political track that harkens back to the days of Public Enemy. The song itself isn't all that great, but that's not the point. I wish they had continued with the Sam Cooke "A Change Is Gonna Come" sample rather than just using it for the intro and fake bridge, but whatever. This song isn't important because of the dubious beat or even Pap's relentless rhyming, but rather because he calls everyone out and basically spells out the problem with the whole incident, even explaining some of the legal nuances ("the law states a cop is not permitted to shoot at a moving car/it doesn't make a difference if its coming straight at him"). All in all, it speaks highly of Papoose as an individual and at least gives him a leg up in the substance department.
More good news for Pap comes on the style side with his recently dropped verse over the beat from Nas' "Black Republicans." It seems like everyone is rapping over this track these days and for the most part, none of them are touching Jay-Z's and Nas' original verses (with the exception of Sean Price, who is always potent) – and that certainly includes Young Hot Rod of G-Unit, who joins Papoose on this particular effort. But while this L.E.S. cut hasn't been a breeding ground for hot verses (unlike, say, Just Blaze's "Show Me What You Got" which led to some fantastic freestyles), it certainly served as a staging ground for Pap. He still uses his put-the-accent-on-the-last-syllable style without remorse and starts out with his familiar drab flow and trying-just-a-bit-too-hard metaphors ("I take my time/ya'll be Russian like the Soviet Union"), but about halfway through the track, he just goes nuts.
At the 2:18 mark, Papoose launches into a double-time explosion that leaves the listener dizzy. ("I smoke the bubonic/ tonic/ exotic/ melodic/ brollic/ bionic/ psychotic/ ironic/ hypnotic kind of chronic/ on every project/ my object /is to make the product the hardest/ smartest/ calmest/ modest/ honest/ oddest/New York is accomplice [this word isn't clear]/ I abolish/ demolish/ astonish/ promise no college/ Harvard is garbage/ acknowledge homage to fathers and martyrs/ sick of these offices often causing the coughing and walking/ so I decided to comment and got responses from Congress/ this is retarded/ this nonsense"). He keeps going at that pace, if you can believe it.
Honestly, this is like nothing I've ever heard. I know Twista, Busta Rhymes, and Mystikal were faster, but Papoose's ability to spin a powerful statement into such a complex rhyme scheme is pretty amazing. The only guy that I've heard layer up that effectively is Eminem.
All told, this one-two punch may be just what Papoose needed. He's known as a bright guy with a relentless work ethic and razor sharp lyrics, but up to this point, he's lacked flair and polish in his delivery. The road to hip hop greatness is littered with would-be lyricists, from Sauce Money to Ali Vegas to Cannibus, so it was always going to take something more to launch Pap to superstardom. Perhaps this new combination of political fire and verbal dexterity is just what he needed.