Brooklyn spitter Papoose (real name Shamele Mackie) has had a roller coaster career since bringing the hype on Busta Rhymes’s “Touch It” remix. After getting caught up in label hell following his $1.5 million contract with Jive in 2006, he pushed out his debut album, The Nacirema Dream independently in 2013 on Fontana Records. He also had to endure the long incarceration of his wife and fellow rapper, Remy Ma, whom he married in 2008 while she was locked up (she was released in 2014).
With a lengthy mixtape run and crashing the Summer Jam stage in 2013 behind him, Papoose is back to work with a new LP dubbed You Can’t Stop Destiny (released July 17), featuring the hot summer bangers “The Bank” and his lovey dovey duet with Remy called “Michael Jackson,” also featuring Ty Dolla $ign.
Add his and Remy’s newly announced roles on VH1 mainstay Love and Hip Hop: New York to his list of blessings and Pap’s purpose is clear: succeed under any circumstances.
In this one-on-one with VIBE, Papoose chats about the album, LHHNY, being married in the limelight and what the Illuminati really means.—Mark Braboy (@DRD_Poetry17)
VIBE: Your album title could be interpreted many different ways but what does You Can’t Stop Destiny mean to you?
Papoose: Basically, the definition of the title is to inspire other people out there who’s tryna accomplish something in their life and might have certain people who might have put obstacles in your way or it might not even be people. It might just be different trials and tribulations that you go through in life that might try to stop you from getting where you got to go. So the album title just makes a statement saying regardless of whom or what, if you’re destined to be something, nobody can stop that. Nobody or nothing can stop that. Whatever you’re destined to be, you can’t stop that.
You also have a cut called “Illuminati” on your new LP and also rapped about it on your “Versace” freestyle. Break down what the illuminati is. How does one become a member?
I feel like in hip-hop, they say certain rappers are, like, ‘He’s Illuminati’ or ‘She’s Illuminati,’ but I don’t think they know the definition of it. Basically, so I can simplify it to you, it means “he who carries the light.” It goes deep, years and years before our time, but to bring it up to date, there might be certain people who are in positions of power and a higher force who want to communicate messages. They will use those people because everybody’s paying attention to them.
So you might have a very popular celebrity who might show certain symbols or who might promote certain brands or certain things that are negative to the minorities just for money. They’re being used by the people of a higher power or as people might say the-forces-that-be, to communicate messages. If you look at hip-hop, for example, conscious rap is never pushed to the forefront. But when it’s something negative or something ignorant, they will push that to the forefront. Sh*t that makes no sense and you can’t learn nothing from, just to keep the poor more poor and the rich, richer. So you are now a puppet.
If you are a public figure and you are in a position where a lot of people are listening to you, certain people will use that and have you promoting ignorance instead of every once in a while, slipping something positive in there to teach somebody something. That’s what basically the illuminati is: “He who carries the light” just to brainwash people.
Do you and Remy Ma ever plan on making album together or going on tour together like Jay Z and Beyoncé at some point?
Yeah. Right now, I’m focusing my individual project, she’s focusing on hers. You never knw what the future holds. We work together when the vibe is right. We don’t like to just create music together just because we’re married. If the vibe is right and the energy is there, we do that. So far, that chemistry has worked for us. But down the line, we’re definitely going to do some music together but right now, I’m focused on what I’m doing and she’s focused on what she’s doing. We just hold each other down like that.
Joe Budden recently made some comments about Nicki Minaj and Meek Mill’s relationship. You also said in an interview that you and Remy are changing how being open about your significant other is frowned upon in hip-hop. Do you feel that hip-hop couples should keep their relationship private in the social media generation?
I mean, it’s up to that individual. I can’t say what all couples should do. In each individual case, those people might be different. What works for the goose don’t work for the gander. I can’t say what everybody should do. I think each couple in their unique situation needs to base it off of that. I don’t like to just say, ‘Alright, just because you a couple and you a celebrity or your significant other is a celebrity, there’s no blueprint to that.’ That’s how I look at it.
What were some of the demands, outside of money, that you and Remy had in order to do
It’s a lot, man. My wife—everybody knows her situation—she’s on parole so we can’t be a part of no ignorance or nobody tryna provoke a negative situation that could possibly go left. That’s definatly a demand. And that’s the main thing. Outside of that, we here to represent who we are. We’re not worried about anyone tryna take that.
Do you feel like you, as an individual, will be portrayed in the correct light?
I mean, you never know what the future holds. I heard those stories about how they do the editing and everything and I’m aware of that. You made a good point. Those individuals are also held responsible for what they project, but at the same time, when somebody is taking footage and chopping it up, you can make something look like outside of what it actually is. I can’t sit here and pretend like I’m psychic and say what [VH1] gon’ do and what they not gon’ do but I know what I’m going to do. I can speak for myself and I don’t represent myself like that on a regular basis so I don’t see how anybody can do that on a screen.
How did you get placement on the soundtrack for NBA 2K16?
I’m a big fan of the game and I always play it. Years ago, I did Madden NFL and then I did Grand Theft Auto IV so I got a good history with [2K Sports] and they gave me an opportunity to do music with them. My song is inspirational and it fit within the guidelines. Some people get on the games and they rap about something that has nothing to do with it. I always did inspirational records that spoke about the actual game so off the strength of that, I was on. Also, DJ Premier was doing the soundtrack and when he had a certain beat, he was like, ‘You’re the only one I thought of who I know would kill it’ so we went in the studio and the rest was history.
Who do you like to play as?
I’mma be real. I use the ’96 Bulls. I was using the Lakers but a lot of cats, they go and pick LeBron and whatever team [he’s] on. So evidently, LeBron is one of the top players of today so the game is gonna have him a bit psyched up more than the other players. I just got tired of that so I said, ‘I’mma fix this, I’mma get the ’96 Bulls and kill ‘em with Jordan.’
If the terms were more favorable, would you ever sign to a label again?
That’s not my interest. My independent experience has been better than my experience with a major label, so my answer would be no. If they made an offer I couldn’t refuse, I would have to definitely have creative control and I would have to be in power, I can’t be having my hands cuffed up. Too much politics and too much tax write offs, too much bullsh*t, man. I ain’t got time for that. My independence is better because you have the opportunity to do more.
What’s next for you?
I’m opening a couple businesses, working on some books, we’re going into films, just growing. Growing as a family man and as an entertainer.