This summer, fellow MCs, producers, DJs, friends and fans awaited the return of the former Terror Squad member, Remy Ma. Social media networks were flooded with videos showing support of the Bronx-born artist. After serving a six-year prison sentence for assault, the “Conceited” rapper returned home to her husband, Papoose and her son, Jayson. Upon Remy’s return she immediately jumped in the recording booth and released new records, showing the world that she’s back.
We spoke with Remy Ma about the massive support she’s received, getting back to music and loving her son and husband in the face of police brutality against Black boys and men.
EBONY: How does it feel to come home and be supported and embraced?
Remy Ma: It’s definitely a blessing and I’m aware of that. I’m aware of the fact that this situation could have went numerous different ways, and many of them not beneficial for my career. I’m just very happy and I feel very blessed to have people be glad that I’m home. There’s people interested in not only hearing my story, but hearing my music and seeing me.
EBONY: What was it like to immediately get into the studio upon being released from prison?
RM: I’m so used to doing music and doing what I love to do that it was a breath of fresh air. I was trying so hard to do that and I wanted to do it so bad for so long, that when I finally got to do it, it was a weight lifted off of my chest. I had all of these things inside of me that I wanted to say and that I went through. I was restricted from doing what I love to do. So to be able to actually get in the studio and in the booth and have the beat laid up, it just felt great.I felt suffocated for so long. I had literally been out of prison for 2 or 3 hours.
EBONY: Your son, Jayson just turned 14. You missed 7 of his birthdays. How did he respond to you coming home?
RM: When I left he was 7 years old. Now, he just turned 14 and he has his little grown man, coming-of-age thing going on. I’m just so happy to be physically there for him. I spent birthdays with him throughout my incarceration, but in a visiting room, across from a table where we can’t really do anything, but get food from a vending machine. That’s not the way to spend your child’s birthday.
EBONY: Now that you’re home, how do you plan to balance motherhood and music?
RM: The same way that I balanced it before. Actually, it may even be easier because before he was a baby. When I left he was 7, and I went through the whole putting out my first album, the “Lean Back” phase with the Terror Squad album and while I was doing that he was young. It was more difficult juggling it then because you want to be there for your child, take them to school everyday, be home to cook dinner and make sure you’re at 'Mommy Muffin Day 'and all of the little crazy things that they do at school and you’re on tour. Or you have interviews you have to do and they get tired. You can’t really have them out late at night. I would take him to the studio, but once it’s late you don’t want to be out at 3 o’clock in the morning with your 5-year-old out late at night, in the studio.
Now that he’s a little older [Pauses]…First of all he doesn’t even allow me to leave him. I think he’s scared to let me out of his sight. He won’t say it but, he’s always like,”Mommy, where are you going? I’m getting dressed right now.” And I’m like,”Okay, I guess that means you’re coming.” (laughs) For example, when we shot the video for Khaled’s remix the other day, he was there and it’s okay.
EBONY: Recently, there’s been a lot of media coverage of police brutality against Black boys and men.You’re raising a young Black male in America. How does that make you feel?
RM: I’m very aware and I have been aware for years. The predicament that they’re put in being a Black male. I always talk to my son about certain things and that he has to be more careful than the average citizen because of his gender and his race. It’s so crazy that he is aware of it. He brings certain things to my attention.
One of his friends had gotten into an argument with a cop about pulling up his pants. I told my son that you just can’t argue with them because you don’t want any problems. He had to be about 12 years old and he told me,”You don’t know what it is to be a young Black man out here.” He was only 12, but the reality of it is that our children experience it earlier in age now and you see it on the news. This is not something that just started happening. It’s been going on. It’s just being publicized more and people are paying attention more. The cameras are on and there’s social media. Everyone has a camera phone or a device that can record these incidents, bringing it to the forefront. But it’s been a problem for years. It’s sad. It scares me because I would be devastated if something happened to my child.
EBONY: Some people say that Black love doesn’t exist, but you had your husband Papoose stand by your side during your incarceration. What was that like?
RM: It’s a blessing, not just for a Black man, but for any man. Most men would probably be gone. Papoose is just a real man. It’s sad to say that I wasn’t the only one in there who was married. There were a couple of women who had husbands. When I say a couple, I mean I count of one hand, the women who had husbands who stood by them. There were a whole lot more who were legally married, had husbands and they were gone at the first sign of any struggle. And they weren’t all Black.
EBONY: Did your relationship strengthen while you were in prison?
RM: Absolutely. You can’t just turn your back or even think less towards someone who has that sort of commitment to you. He never once had me questioning his love for me and that was even before I went to prison. When someone shows you their loyalty as opposed to just saying it, you can’t refute it. When you’re at your lowest point and you’re going through the most traumatizing thing that you’ve ever experienced in your life and he’s right there side by side with you, holding your hand and wiping your tears and telling you 'As long as you’re here, I’m here.' You can’t argue with that. As a wife, that’s something that you would want. Just as a woman period. I’m grateful for that and I will always love him for that.
EBONY: How did you keep your look and style together while you were in prison?
RM: (laughs) I didn’t have any look or any style in prison. Your footwear couldn’t cost more than $50. You can’t wear blue, orange, gray, any patterns or you couldn’t wear your hair down. There were just so many rules that coincided with your attire. I couldn’t wait to get home and get back into a store and have my stylist.
EBONY: After 6 years of being away, how do you view your style now and has it changed at all?
RM: I had every subscription that you could think of to every magazine. Like paper dolls, I would make full outfits with hairstyles and everything. Before I came home, I made a book and sent it home to my hair dresser and he sent it to my stylist and make up artist. But I don’t think really think about it. I just trust their judgment.
EBONY: A lot of people don’t know that you were at the top of your class in junior high school. How you were able to maintain yourself and excel as a student while going through struggles during that point in your life?
RM: I was always really smart in school. My whole family is smart. We have Jeopardy challenges and have Scrabble tournaments. I stopped going to high school when I met Big Pun, which wasn’t the smartest thing. So I never got my diploma. When I went to prison, it’s mandatory to get your GED if you don’t have a high school diploma. So they enrolled me into the classes, but I could never go because my husband visited me everyday from 8:30am to 3:30pm. But when the test came, I took it and I got a perfect score. All of my scores in each subject were crazy. It was funny because the teachers and principal said that they had never had anyone get a perfect score. Someone had said,”She never even came to class.” I said, “Let me guess, you thought because I was rapper that I was stupid?”
Glennisha Morgan is a multimedia journalist, writer, photographer and filmmaker. Follow her on Twitter @GlennishaMorgan or at www.GlennishaMorgan.com.