[artist id="1538336"]Papoose[/artist] has to sit back and think for a couple of minutes when asked how many mixtapes he's released in the past five years. After some quick mental math, the Brooklyn-born MC comes up with the figure (same number as Michael Jordan's jersey): 23. "I actually slowed down for a little bit, and cats still ain't catch up."
Pap's 23rd tape, Papoose Season, came out last week.
"[The title] came from a conversation with me and [DJ] Kay Slay," Pap explained. "I dropped a freestyle out there. The haters came, the support came, just all the regular stuff that happens when it's Papoose season. Everyone went in a frenzy over that. Slay was like, 'Ah, man, it's Papoose season again.' I was like, 'Damn, I gotta run with that.' So I ran with that. I'm not stopping. My consistency is going to continue."
When Pap reflected on his underground legacy, he came to one conclusion: He's the uno.
"The best," Pap said unapologetically. "I think I'm the best to ever do it. I take it serious. R.I.P. to Justo [late founder of the annual Mixtape Awards]. I feel that Justo left me with the mixtape crown, so I gotta hold that down. But a mixtape is not what it used to be. It means way more to the game now. You got mixtapes out there that's more relevant than albums. That's why I think I was so successful. I always took it more serious than the average cat would.
"I was watching [a Mixtape Dailyinterview with Drake y'all did. What Drake was saying, I been trying to tell cats that for years," the MC said, referring to Drake's assertion last month that "a mixtape has become an album." "They thinking I'm crazy. But meanwhile, these mixtapes are taking me on tour. I just came back from Russia. [The mixtapes,] they feeding me. I'm paying my bills. This is how I'm getting money. I have no problem with releasing music."
But what about the long-awaited debut album? Twenty-three tapes delivered, and Pap's fans are still waiting for his Nacirema Dream. His followers were patient through a lengthy bidding war in 2006; they even understood when Pap signed with and quickly left Jive Records after he and the label couldn't see eye to eye. And that was almost three years ago.
Pap said he's hoping to put his debut out this year.
"If everything goes the way it's going now, they definitely going to get the album," he promised. "If it doesn't ... I'm moving forward. I'm strategizing my business where I can present the album the way I want to present it. But I got an incredible album. I wanna look back on this interview when the album does come out. I want to show and prove, because I'm touching on topics that need to be touched. I'm watching the game. I'm looking at what I got in the vault, and I'm like, 'Nobody has surpassed it. This material was ahead of its time.' I'm just so confident in what my album is gonna do. Just based on my fanbase and the money I make and the feedback I get, I know I'm gonna be successful enough to keep it moving and drop the next album."
Is Papoose the real mixtape king? Let us know in the comments!