If you ask a hip hop purist — who champions lyrics over everything — Papoose is definitely in that discussion, and if you ask the Brooklyn rhymer himself, there's no discussion at all.
In an exclusive interview with BET.com, the Bed Stuy MC, who shot into the public eye with his 1999 hit "Alphabetical Slaughter," clarified his comments from a recent interview with The NY Daily News in which the Kayslay protégé turned heads when he declared himself better than Hov.
"The only thing that was left out that I think people should know was that they specifically asked me about [Jay Z]," said Papoose. "I did a long interview with them guys, speaking about a lot of different things and towards the end of the interview he asked me, 'Do you still consider yourself the king of New York?' And I replied, 'Hell, yeah I'm the king of New York. There's nobody in New York that's on my level lyrically, my pen game is the most immaculate.' Those were my comments. Then he asked, 'Not even Jay Z?' I said, 'No. He's not on my level either.'"
Despite adding context Papoose made it clear that his words were in no way misconstrued.
"I stand 100 percent behind everything I said," he declared. "I'm not running around throwing his name around, but it's called 'confidence.' You're supposed to feel like that. I truly believe in my heart that lyrically I'm the best."
Papoose looks to prove it on his next album, which he's currently finishing up. For the still untitled LP's first single, "Current Events," Papoose re-connected with the one-and-only DJ Premier (the two worked together in 2013 on the song "Turn It Up" from Papoose's debut album, Nacirema Dream) and the fiery MC says the album will be full of classic names.
"I got Showbiz from Showbiz and AG, he produced a classic joint for me," Papoose exclaimed. "Shout out to my brother Havoc, he's doing a song for me on the project, I got a record with my brother Vado, Troy Ave ... Fred The Godson, and a few surprises."
Despite only releasing one official album in roughly 15 years due to label drama, Papoose has always kept fans buzzing with an onslaught of mixtapes and features on other artists' records.
"I'm very appreciative about where I'm at right now," he continued. "I just came from Paris not too long ago, I been to Russia, I been all over the world, and to be able to go to places where some people that can't even speak English but they recite the words to my songs, I take that as being successful. To have people like Minister Farrakhan reach out to me and thank me for spreading wisdom through my music, or Al Sharpton reach out during the Sean Bell situation makes me feel like my message is getting out there."
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(Photo: Ray Tamarra/Getty Images)