From an upcoming artist or an outsider’s perspective, receiving a million-dollar deal may look like a good thing. However, this wasn’t the case for Papoose.
In an interview with Big Boy TV earlier this month, the New York rapper shared that early on in his career, he sold mixtapes independently, which eventually led him to catch the attention of DJ Kay Slay. The New York DJ was known for playing new artists.
“I had been trying to get on to be honest with you for so long,” Papoose told Big Boy. “And coming from New York, around that time, if you wasn’t on Roc-A-Fella, Murder Inc, or Ruff Ryders, you wasn’t getting any game and you damn sure wasn’t getting any radio [play].”
Around 2004, after briefly being in prison, Papoose recorded a mixtape and found the address of Hot 97 to contact DJ Kay Slay and introduce himself. After multiple attempts trying to get his music played on the radio show, he says DJ Kay Slay reached out to him when he was “about to throw his life away.” What’s more, the DJ signed Papoose.
By 2007, Papoose revealed that he went on to sign a $1.5 million record deal with Jive Records. During the interview, he recalled the deal as one of his all-time career regrets.
“It was the worst mistake I ever made in my life, taking that deal,” Papoose admitted. “Because I was independent for so long. You gotta realize, I met Slay in ’04. We ain’t get a deal till ’07. We was working hard. Mixtape after mixtape after mixtape.”
Papoose shared that he had received a lot of hate at the time for teaming up with DJ Kay Slay, which affected his career.
“My first single had Snoop Dogg on it, produced by Scott Storch. And they was like, ‘Okay, now we can finish him for real because if we don’t play this record he’s gonna look crazy,'” Papoose said.
He continued, “And that’s what they did, long story short. A couple other bad situations, the deal folded. So I went back to the street.”
After losing the $1.5 million deal, Papoose went on to continue independently releasing music including his debut studio album, “The Nacirema Dream.” Being a longtime dedicated independent rapper led him to be appointed as the head of Hip-Hop at TuneCore, according to a press release.
“When hiring executives I look for expertise and experience,” TuneCore CEO Andreea Gleeson said in a statement. “Papoose’s years of hustling and success in the industry make him uniquely qualified to advise Hip-Hop artists because he’s been in their shoes, he understands what they’re going through and he knows first-hand what works.”