Papoose was born Shamele Mackie on December 31, 1978 in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, USA, the same area that rap legends Jay-Z and The Notorious B.I.G. aka Biggie Smalls hailed from. He was given his alias he uses in rap today (Papoose) by his grandmother, because of his childhood resemblance to a Native American child.
Inspired by rap legends Rakim, Kool G Rap and Big Daddy Kane, Papoose took his first shots at following in those rappers footsteps at the young age of 11. Since then he has been well respected in the underground street circuit for a long period of time now, and has survived the trappings and politics of the rap industry today, which uses gimmicks as well as fake street and jail images in order to sell records, and many true Hip Hop fans believe that this destroys the essence of what a true mc really is. Papoose however, is a true MC, in every essence.
Papoose's first big break came when rap veteran Kool G Rap invited Papoose to be on his Roots of Evil album, based on his rhyme acumen. Kool-G-Raps "Roots of Evil" album was released in 1999, and the track showed that Papoose could hold his own alongside the rap veterans.
After a failed record deal, Papoose decided to press his own mixtapes in order to build his reputation from the ground up. This resulted in his unique underground smash "Alphabetical Slaughter” which enthralled the mixtape circuit. On the track he flows venomously from A to Z, using each letter of the alphabet perfectly and precise, simply put, the unique track is a lyrical onslaught of vocabulary. In 2004 Papoose then approached DJ Kay Slay with the mixtape, as the DJ was leaving his post at New York's Hot 97 radio station, he approached him a couple of times actually, and aggressively promoted himself. Not only did DJ Kay Slay start placing Papoose on his Streetsweeper mixtape series, but he essentially founded the Street Sweepers Entertainment imprint in order to help gear up the unsigned artist to be New York's next legendary MC.
With the track "Sharades," a narrative track about the "hip-hop police" that oscillates from a first to third-person viewpoint, in which he speaks on the unfair tactics of the ”hip hop police”, Papoose once again proved to the hip hop world he was like no other in the game. The record went in rotation at Hot 97 in New York City and many other stations around the globe, and in 2005 he won the MTV Justo Award for the best underground rapper of the year, and also UMA'S “Underground Artist of the Year”.
Papoose has already put out 12 mixtapes and has a total of 227 songs and freestyles all within a year and a half. That is equivalent to 12 albums during that period and more than any signed or unsigned artist has ever done. Papoose has continued to drop classics such as “Monopoly”, “Flashback” and “Mother nature” where he spoke about the politics surrounding hurricane Katrina and the disaster that followed. His Internet following is tremendous and he has the same amount of downloads as most platinum artists.
A bidding war ignited to get the rapper's signature on a record deal, but he patiently took his time in order to find the best label situation but did broker promotion deals with Violator Management and Busta Rhymes' Flipmode Squad to co-executive produce Papoose's first official album. This lead to Papoose guest appearing on a few tracks in 2006, including the remix of Busta Rhymes' Top 20 pop-charting single "Touch It." Aside from that track he has made appearances on songs by Nas, Common, Talib Kweli, Kool G Rap, Ghostface Killah, Tupac Shakur (on his most recent posthumous record Pac's Life), Chamillionaire, Raekwon, Jadakiss, and Jim Jones, among others.
On August 24, 2006, his official website announced that he signed with Jive Records, a deal which, according to his management's official website was worth $1.5 million. His debut album is entitled The Nacirema Dream (Nacirema is the backwards spelling of "American"). It is expected that production will come from The Heatmakerz, Swizz Beats, DJ Premier, Kanye West, DR Period, and the likes of Pharrell Williams. Dr. Dre, and Eminem have also been speculated. Nas may be featured on a track, and possibly Talib Kweli. In the run up to the release of his debut album he held over fans with The Best of Papoose: The Mixtape, a superb synopsis of his prolific mixtape run.
When speaking on his debut album Papoose has said; "The album is your diploma. The mixtapes are high school. The album is like-it's a whole different level." He followed up that statement by saying; "At the end of the day, my material, my music speaks for itself. I never came into this with no gimmick. I never had to diss nobody to get no attention. I always came with pure talent, pure material. I ain't gon let ya'll down with this album, straight up and down. My album gon' make history."
Aside from his dedication to music, Papoose has become known for engaging in charity work, from visiting sick children, to donating to causes including the Make-A-Wish Foundation and to various Hurricane Katrina charities.
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