Papoose

The Nacirema Dream

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    7
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A couple years before this official debut landed, Papoose was hip-hop's great East Coast hope, but by the time the much anticipated The Nacirema Dream landed at least five years late, the million-plus-dollar Jive Records contract and the aboveground "buzz" had both vanished. Nacirema -- and that's "America" backwards -- barely cracked the Top 100 its first week, but you can blame the long birthing period and the miles of bad road to get here because Papoose is as angry, as snide, and as clever as the man who burned up the mixtape circuit. He's no serpentine or subtle rapper either, preferring to pull curious listeners instantly into his "Motion Picture" by telling a paranoid story of his crew and their willingness to mutiny, rather than the usual don't-jack-my-swagger track. Titles like "Pimpin Won't Die," "Die Like a G," and "Where I Come From" lead to tracks much more meaty and fresh than those beat-up words might suggest, and with dancehall don Mavado (toasting on the stately anthem "On Top of My Game"), fellow cold gangsters Mobb Deep (sounding perfectly at home on "Aim Shoot"), and the legendary DJ Premier (a massive production asset on the infectious smackdown called "Turn It Up") all here, this is the non-crossover, not-so-radio-friendly guest list fans always hoped would happen. What doesn't happen is that satisfying overall album flow, and when it comes to production, the highlights are mentioned above with the rest of the album sounding mixtape rough or just plain old. It might not be the grand arrival showcase that was expected but Papoose hasn't fallen off the "ones to watch" list quite yet, even when he's been on there longer than most anyone else.

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