Born to Dominican parents in the notorious Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, Shamele Mackle received the nickname Papoose by his grandmother because of his resemblance to a Native American child. By the age of 11, Papoose was trying his hand at rapping and in 1998 he landed a guest appearance on Kool G Rap’s Roots of Evil album. After a failed record deal, Papoose approached DJ Kay Slay as he was leaving New York’s Hot 97 offices – where the famed DJ hosted a radio show – and handed him a demo. Impressed by what he heard, Kay Slay invited the young rapper to appear on his popular Streetsweeper mixtape series.
Very quickly Papoose developed a reputation as one of the most talented and lyrical artists in the mixtape scene. Original tracks like “Alphabetical Slaughter” and “Sharades” caught the attention of hip-hop at large and earned him the 2005 Justo Mixtape Award for Best Underground Artist. In 2006 he signed a lucrative $1.5 million contract with Jive Records, and although Papoose has since parted ways with the label to seek more creative control, his buzz on the underground circuit remains stronger than ever. He continues to release new acclaimed mixtapes multiple times per year as he finishes work on his debut album The Nacirema Dream, due out in the near future.