Friday, July 13, 2007


These days, the Zeitgeist moves faster than anyone cares to remember. I remember only several years ago when the moons and stars were still aligned. Back when the curvature of spacetime had not been warped sticky, like four dimensional honey, dripping with the sheer weight of useless information; Blogs: millions upon millions of satellites orbiting that blazing ball of gas, Google.

Sean Bell was shot and killed by undercover police at his bachelor party. Papoose is a rapper from Bedford Stuy in Brooklyn who wrote a song called "50 shots" about the incident. The incident was important and terrifying, but much of media has performed it's obligatory outcry and the story has fallen back back back through the pages of the newspapers. The Zeitgeist has moved on. So will I.

The thing that fascinates me about Papoose is his penchant for disseminating information, as if his raps were political pamphlets thrown, billowing down from a rooftop. He's New York's new wiz kid, produced, with ballyhoo, like the school braniac at a spelling bee.

Clearly NAS is no longer New York's answer, if you were prithee to the red-light, green-light middling sounds of "Hip-Hop Is Dead." Jay-Z is merely keeping house: making sure the floo is closed in the chimbly when he leaves for a month, getting creative with the leftover Ramen noodles and spices, stealing the neighbor's wi-fi.

Truth be told Papoose isn't really that great, listening to him is kind of like squinting your eyes and pretending the face you drew on the paper bag is Jay-Z. He doesn't have much charisma, his voice is like a younger Jay-Z, his rhymes lose footing very quickly by backpedaling over meaning. Why is he so lucrative? Well, I suppose you could ask that same question about Kanye. Why is Kanye so lucrative? Kanye's lyrics are frequently god-awful (have you heard the new one? we won't talk about the identity politics of "You could be my black Kate Moss tonight" or the even stranger identity politics implicit in positioning himself as the post-apocalypse God-child Tetsuo in 'Akira') but he's a fantastic composer of beats.

What is appealing about Papoose to Jive that he would be worth 1.5 mil? well, aside from the fact that he already has major draw (see his mix tapes: Busta, Nas, Mary J Blige, Swizz Beats, Just Blaze) in the NYC area, he has garnered much acclaim more because of his ideas than his words, very much like Kanye (and R Kelly's wily ego). 50 Shots was pretty widely accepted as being a return to the New Yorkpolitcal consciousness form that Ghostface said was dead after Amadou Diallo was shot in 1999. ("I knew New York was wack when they shot my man Amadou Diallo forty-one fucking times and ain't nobody stand up. But if that shit happen in L.A. somewhere, they would have went to bat for Amadou Diallo. It would have been hell. Stores getting burnt the fuck up. New York don't stand for nothing.") Its a return to "The Message" that Grandmaster Flash made popular so many years ago during Hip-Hop's honeymoon period at the Roxy in NYC.

case in point:

Recently I read an interview in Vibe about Papoose's signing to Jive records for 1.5 million. He spoke about his upcoming release in Sept. 07, "The Nacirema Dream" (see what he did there?), but what fascinated me most in the interview revolved around his work on the copious mixtapes emblazoned with his name. Specifically the stuff about his Law Library series.

(I have combined all three tracks into one for easier listening and easier access and heres some lyrics one, two, three but rest assured, I don't care for you, my readers, that much.)

Papoose - Law Library 1,2 & 3

Papoose's Law Library series trampolines upon a simple concept and it is this: people don't know the law without lawyers to explain it to them. If they can't afford lawyers why not eloquently (quite for papoose) describe a person's rights to him over a beat?

I'm not a big fan of the beats on the songs themselves: muzakky dimly lit tunes with green lampshades and spectacles. It fits the mood of the song and doesn't detract from the words, which is the idea.

These songs are what I'm talking about when I say his ideas are superior to his flow. There's nothing that special about the songs but they are riveting simply because of the sheer amount of useful information one is receiving in such a short period. He's no Aesop Rock, but then again, Aesop wouldn't be able to deliver these lines with such clarity, we'd be plodding through a swamp of metaphors and assonance before any sort of meaning could be arrived at.

Anyhoo, enjoy yourself with this one and we'll look out for Papoose's debut in Sept. it ought to be stupid big when it drops.

here's Ye with his stupid new expensive video (Scream anyone?)


Alex said...

i'm slightly confused by how yr paragraph on sean bell (and especially yr admission that you will move on from the incident) fits in relation to yr praise of papoose. if what is so fascinating about him is that he brings back a certain political consciousness that hip hop has lacked for some time, isn't it kinda antithetical to yr point to follow the zeitgeist?

or, alternatively, and maybe this is the source of my confusion, how precisely are you using "zeitgeist" as a concept? i get the impression that you find the zeitgeist to move quickly and have a short term memory, right? now more than ever? and to what degree are you using zeitgeist to talk about both aesthetics and politics (i've always understood it more in relation to the former, but maybe you have some other insight)?

Cap'n Guthrie said...

I hate you. thats my insight.

Cap'n Guthrie said...

my sean bell paragraph is only in here for context really. I felt like I should mention it because I did a post about it a while ago not because I want to lay my analysis (rather than praise) of papoose in a sean bell bed and send it floating down a river. I moved on because I didn't want to write another post about sean bell.

I'm surprised, I thought you were going to jump on the the identity politics of kanye line.

Alex said...

okay, that makes sense now.

well, i don't really understand what you are getting at with the identity politics line, but i don't really understand what he is getting at either! so, hey, i'll let you two hash it out on yr own. really i was going to leave a comment about ghostface's scary/stupid riot recommendation, but that doesn't really have anything to do with you, so i couldn't see the point.

Anonymous said...

The Lyford Cay Denomination serves as a community resource as far as something ecumenical and Bahamian families. Lyford Cay School offers a high standard Nursery through High Creed education. Help of a multi-cultural territory that promotes reconciliation amongst diverse nationalities, students are provided with the opportunities and resources to develop cross-cultural learners and culpable citizens. Lyford Cay School is an independent, non-denominational, time school. The high school is a non-profit-making entity governed by a Meals of Directors.