Exclusive – When Papoose said he was retiring from rap during an interview with the HollywoodLife podcast last February, even his wife Remy Ma didn’t believe him. In fact, she bet $1,000 the Brooklyn native would release new music again. In what was intended to be his final curtain call, the 43-year-old MC released a full-length album every month for 12 months throughout 2021.

His “Thought I Was Gonna Stop” collaboration with Lil Wayne, which appeared on the November album, currently sits at over 4.7 million YouTube views, proving there’s very much an audience for the seasoned rapper. Busta Rhymes, Jay Electronica and his mentor DJ Kay Slay were among those who refused to let Papoose recoil from making music. In a recent interview with HipHopDX, Papoose was genuinely shocked by the number of Hip Hop legends who discouraged him from putting the mic down.

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“Jay Electronica hit me up,” Papoose tells DX. “He was like, ‘You can’t retire, you’re one of the last samurais. And I was like, ‘Aw, man.’ It was just an honor to get that message from him. And then Busta called me up and he said, ‘You are not retiring. I’m not allowing you to… I won’t allow it.’ And I’m like, ‘Ohh, this like a gang? Am I forced for life?’

“Then my brother Kay Slay, he said, ‘Pap, what the hell are you talking about, you retiring, man? Ain’t no retirement, man.’ He was saying the same thing. He was just constantly on me about it, man, like, ‘Yo, Paps, are you still going to retire?’ The entire year. And I’m like, ‘No, man, brother.’ I’m trying to explain to why, and he’s like, ‘Man, you can’t retire. You better not retire.’ I’m like, these guys are forcing me to stay. I didn’t know people cared about me that much.”

But Papoose still has his proverbial “bags packed” and hasn’t exactly decided if he’ll make more music. He’s admittedly deflated by the current state of Hip Hop. As he told HollywoodLife, “I’m over it. It’s watered down. When I came into this thing, it meant something. It was about talent and craft and spreading the good word. It’s not about that anymore. I can sit here and tell you, I’m really turned off from it. I mean, I just want to go on with my life and you know, focus on my family.”

Doubling down, Papoose says nothing has changed in the year since he initially made that bold yet astute observation.

“I still feel that way,” he says. “There’s a lot of things, a lot of lost elements in Hip Hop, man. When I said I was retiring, Busta was saying things like, ‘Man, your contribution is needed. Are you kidding me?’ And it helped me realize, it helped me feel a little appreciated. I didn’t know that I was going to get so much love. I didn’t know some of the greatest rappers of all time, like Lil Wayne, Timbaland, Swizz Beatz all were going to do great music with me this year.

“Because my plan was to do the 12 albums just to show appreciation to my fans on my way out. But I’m reconsidering it now. My bags are packed by the door. I didn’t unpack yet [laughs].”

From the January to December albums, Papoose was able to secure beats from some of the greatest Hip Hop producers alive, including Pete Rock, DJ Premier and Large Professor. He still marvels at the fact he was able to pull it off.

“I was blessed last year,” he says. “Pete Rock, Large Professor, Premier, Lil Wayne, Fabolous — me and Fab finally did something. Swizz Beatz, Da Rockwilder, Bangladesh, Crooked I, Ransom, 38 Special. Man, I can keep going. It’s not even funny what I did this last … I can’t even believe I was able to do this shit.”

Check back with HipHopDX soon for Part II of the Papoose interview. Until then, find all 12 of his 2021 albums on Spotify.