In this Big Fight Weekend exclusive, Papoose discusses his career, personal growth, and the origin of his love for the sweet science.
The sport of boxing has been one that, at its best, attracts celebrities, athletes, and those within the pop culture sphere. Hip-Hop specifically has always been a part of boxing, whether through ring entrances, promoters, or just fans of the sport. Hip-Hop artist Papoose comes to mind, who was recently hired on as an executive for one of the largest music distributors in the world. If you are ever attending a fight anywhere in NY, chances are you will run into Papoose, and at times, he’s with his wife, Remy Ma, a hip-hop star in her own right.
Speaking of Papoose, he has had an interesting career filled with highs and lows, but in 2023, he has made the most out of his situation, which is the reward you receive when you don’t allow adversity to get the better of you. He’s been in the game officially for 25 years, and that first opportunity is one that he will never forget as it came in the form of being on a track with a legendary artist named Kool G Rap.
Papoose told Big Fight Weekend, “Back then, the younger version of me, I was hungry to spread my word to the world. I was eager to be heard and make a difference. I was a young man in the streets that was chasing my dreams. A friend of mine had mentioned that he knew Kool G Rap, who was one of my idols that I looked up to. One day, he took me to the studio, and (Kool) G Rap was there, and I spit (rhymed) for him, and he showed me love. In the process of that, he was working on his album Roots of Evil, and he told me ‘if you want to be on the album, come to the studio’.
“I remember preparing my verse in the studio, and when I heard the beat, the music sounded like magic to my ears. The booth was new to me, and everything was a new experience but I just knew that I was following my dream. I remember feeling like I was getting closer to accomplishing that, but at the same time, I knew I was on a track with (Kool) G Rap and I had to come with it. That’s what I did, and it was a helluva experience, so shout out to (Kool) G Rap.”
That moment put Papoose on a path where he eventually linked up with the late great Dj KaySlay and flooded the streets with mixtape after mixtape. Pretty soon, Papoose’s freestyles and songs were on every mixtape and mixtape DVD in the early to late 2000s. “Everything comes full circle, and it’s a blessing to start out as a youngster in the streets battling for money. Then grindin’ and putting out so many mixtapes with my brother (DJ) KaySlay, getting that 1.5-million-dollar deal and that falling apart. Then having to rebuild; my wife (Remy Ma) was incarcerated, and then my whole world came crashing down around that time. Before starting all over, I put everything on hold because I had to focus on my wife, and to me, that was more important. Once she got stable, slowly but surely, I started getting back to it,” said Papoose.
As Papoose looks back at his career, he accepts that there were opportunities to do things better, but he now uses his new role as Head of Hip-Hop at TuneCore to teach some of the younger artists to avoid making some of the mistakes he made. Papoose told Big Fan Weekend, “Coming up to date, it’s been a long journey with a lot of ups and downs throughout life. My journey in hip-hop and life go side by side. This is something I always wanted to do, but I put so much into it, and I believed in myself that I felt I didn’t need to do anything else because one day I would become this big rap star. I ended up being in the streets and just going through a lot of trials and tribulations.
Papoose continued “I wish I would have never done that, and it’s why I give advice to young artists and say, ‘Yea, it’s good to have music as your dream or your career but still go to school and do all of those positive things.’ I would have never experienced the streets if I had kept that mentality back then. All of the work I put in over the years, and now I am an executive at one of the biggest & best distributors in the world, which is TuneCore. I did twelve albums in one year, and that opened a lot of doors for me.”
Shifting the conversation to the sweet science, Papoose has found a way to incorporate boxing into the things he is involved with, whether filming at gyms while on Love & Hip-Hop NY, having boxing-related sound effects on his music, or placing a pair of gloves on the digital artwork of a song. Papoose is a boxing guy, and his initial love for the sport came at a time when the world’s imagination was captured by boxing Hall of Famer ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson.
“I loved boxing my whole life. For me, it was one of those things that you love it so much that you wonder if you did it in your past life. Honestly, when I was a kid, in the summertime (Brooklyn, NY), they would bring boxing gloves out; they would put us in a gate and close it, make us fight one by one, and from there, I fell in love with boxing. I was a big fan of Mike Tyson as a child. I remember watching the PPV fights on HBO with Tyson. As I got a little older, I started to do my research, and learned about Muhammad Ali, Floyd Patterson, Joe Lewis, and all of these amazing fighters. Ali was just the most charismatic, and he was for the people. He was very poetic, captured the room wherever he was at, and stood for something. Ali has to be my favorite fighter of all time.” Papoose is a student of the game and not what you would call a casual.
I was curious to know what was the first live fight he attended. Papoose told Big Fight Weekend, “I’ve been to a lot of fights in my day. I want to say it was one of the Zab (Judah) fights (first live event). I wasn’t too close; wasn’t in the floor seats. I wasn’t Papoose the rapper just yet, so I was in the nose bleeds. Shout out to my brother Zab (Judah), Brooklyn!
In today’s sport, there are plenty of fighters that are making enough noise to have a digital following aside from boxing’s biggest star Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. So who is Papoose following these days? “I like ‘Boots’ (Jaron Ennis), Terence Crawford, ‘Tank’ (Gervonta Davis), (Deontay) Wilder, (Devin) Haney, Shakur Stevenson is way different, Teofimo (Lopez) and Errol Spence Jr just to name a few.”
Papoose has a busy year coming up, so I was interested to know what’s on the table for the now executive and long time artist. Papoose said, “I’m blessed to be Head of Hip-Hop at TuneCore, so I’m very focused. We have some great things that are going on and some that I can’t speak about because it’s still unfolding. TuneCore is the best distributor in the world, where the independent artist keeps 100% of their profits. There is no other distributor doing it like us right now and I’m happy to be in that position. On the music side, I am going to do a project this year. I have the single out now (Makin Plays) with Jim Jones and Jaquae, produced by Stan the Man. I have so much more coming this year. It’s going to be a great year.”
My Three Cents
Papoose is a perfect example of someone who never let go of his dreams despite facing obstacles in life that could have veered him off of his path. Now 25 years later, he is an executive who helps mentor the new crop of artists to be better positioned for their futures. By the way, he is a husband, father, executive, and artist, all while being the biggest fan of the sport we love, boxing. Now that is something to look up to.
Before ending the call, I asked Papoose the question that will be asked worldwide on April 22nd live on Showtime PPV. Who will win between Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis and Ryan Garcia? To read his thoughts about the fight, you will have to wait for the Big Fight Weekend All-Star prediction panel article that will post during fight week, so stay tuned for that.