Papoose is both a victim and a victor of the American dream and the endless pursuit of happiness. He was signed to Jive Records back in 2006, but entered what he and Kay Slay referred to as “A&R hell”, leading to endless delays of his debut album, The Nacirema Dream (that’s “America” spelled backwards, for the non-dyslexics). Much like Saigon before him, Pap wrestled with his label to get the rights to his album, and seven years later, The Nacirema Dream is finally here.
During the time that The Nacirema Dream was delayed, Pap released an astounding 27 mixtapes made up of original material and freestyles, which is testament to his work ethic. This same aesthetic might also explain how Pap found himself as an impromptu headlining act at last weekend’s Hot 97 Summer Jam. Nevertheless, the endless delays of The Nacirema Dream have lent sort of a dated feel to certain parts of the record, such as on the album opener, “Motion Picture”, which sounds like a circa ’99 Swizz Beat.
But as a dweller of Brooklyn The Planet, Pap seems to rarely leave his self-contained universe, and retro sounds sometimes work in his favor. “Mother Ghetto” is an unapologetic BK banger, while the Mobb Deep featured “Aim Shoot” is rugged New York boom bap of late 90′s era. Later, on the DJ Premier produced “Turn It Up”, we find Pap over a classic Gang Starr-influenced beat that sounds like it was tailor made for Guru.
Obviously a street smart dude, Pap uses his platform to educate his block on both “Cure” (feat. Erykah Badu) and “Law Library Part 8″, breaking down the facts about AIDS & cancer, or the NYPD’s new “stop-and-frisk” policy, respectively. This deserves respect.
On the flip side of that coin, there are a few attempts at pandering to club/radio that hinder the album, more than help it. The Remy Ma featured “What’s My Name” inexplicably samples The O’Jays “For The Love Of Money”, sounding like something off a 1997 Foxy Brown LP, while the Ron Browz featured “Get At Me” burns the ear drums. Meanwhile, the Mavado driven “On Top Of My Game” also sounds incredibly dated, and to make matters worse, Pap confuses Ice Cube for 2Pac, ad-libbing “Yo, how’d that n***a 2Pac used to say? Yay-Yaaaaaay!” Facepalm.
What ultimately makes The Nacirema Dream a let down is the fact that Pap has had plenty of time to make this into something better than what it is. With twenty-seven mixtapes under his belt since that Jive signing, he could have easily pulled the best material from each tape and saved it for his album. Instead, we get a mishmash of dated material and poor crossover attempts, despite a few quality street cuts.
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