A number of surprise guests (Mariah Carey in white cutoffs, Lil Wayne and Rick Ross for “Pop That,” Lil Kim) performed at last night’s 20th edition of Hot 97′s Summer Jam, the annual celebration of big rap that doubles as a booster for middle-sized local talent. But the most talked-about among them was Brooklyn rapper Papoose, who performed his single “Get At Me” at the end of Kendrick Lamar’s set. Part of what made the pop-up so funny was that people expected Jay-Z, who attended the show, to join Lamar. Hot 97 program director Ebro Darden said that didn’t happen because Jay was happy in the crowd, “chilling with the wife.” Perhaps more telling, another station employee, Marisa Mendez, wrote that Jay’s planned appearance was cut because the “whole show ran over its time.” (Indeed, after the Papoose stunt, French Montana’s headlining set ended abruptly.)
So who is Papoose and how did he end up kind of headlining Summer Jam? Here’s some of the backstory.
“Get At Me,” the song Papoose performed, is a single featuring Ron Brownz that’s taken from The Nacirema Dream, a long-delayed LP Papoose released in March through independent distributor Fontana. (Nacirema is “American” spelled backwards.) According to Papoose, “the concept of the album” and “a small portion of the record” date back to 2006, when he first began working on the album.
“Kendrick Lamar was scheduled to bring me out onstage,” Papoose insisted on today’s Hot 97 morning show. He continued, “I knew Kendrick Lamar before he even got on… I brought them through Brooklyn, I brought them through all the hoods… Him and Jay Rock, those are my homies.” Last November, the two appeared together on DJ Kay Slay’s “Lyrical Gangstas.”
But he didn’t bother to tell Hot 97′s program director, who, along with the audience, had no idea. “I was happy Pap was getting a look… I found out from Kendrick’s manager,” Rosenberg explained this morning. The DJ’s questionable judgment made a big splash at last year’s Summer Jam too, after he insulted Nicki Minaj and she pulled out of the show.
Along with Queens’ Stack Bundles and Brooklyn’s Maino, two other rappers “trying to take back hip-hop’s hearts and minds with a defiantly traditional New York sound,” he was profiled in FADER in 2006.
They’ve been husband and wife since 2008, the same year she was sentenced to eight years in prison for shooting another woman. They originally intended to marry at Rikers Island jail, while Remy Ma awaited sentencing there, but the ceremony was called off after Papoose reportedly showed up to Rikers with a handcuff key. The couple is now allowed conjugal visits every six weeks. “When I go upstate to visit Rem, the visiting floor is deserted,” Papoose said this year. “Dudes always condemning the females for not holding them down, but y’all not holding the women down.”
Seven summers ago, in 2006, Papoose signed a $1.5 million deal with Jive. “The president of the label actually signed me to the label because his son was a fan,” Papoose told Allhiphop last year. He left the label in 2007, after what mentor DJ Kay Slay called “a year of hell.”
“I invested in real estate. It worked out well. I’m okay. The money’s doing well,” he told the Village Voice in March.