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Remy Ma: Say What’s On Your Mind

She’s got her publicist shook every time she opens her mouth. Lawyers, label execs and former colleagues are trying to shut her down. She’s facing attempted-murder charges. But Remy Ma bites her tongue for no one.

“I don’t like bitches.”

Remy “Ma” Smith sits at Max Brenner restaurant in Manhattan’s Union Square with her publicist and a journalist. “And I say ‘bitches’ because, if you have a pussy, you’re a bitch. Even if you’re two years old. Like, look at this little bitch on the slide!” She cracks up. “Look at this little bitch with her Barbie in the playground!” The publicist looks nervous.

This isn’t exactly the best time for Remy, 26, to be talking reckless. After her critically acclaimed solo debut, There’s Something About Remy: Based on a True Story, sold a meager 150,000 units last year, the Bronx-born rapstress split from her longtime crew, Fat Joe and the Terror Squad, and broke off her deal with SRC/Universal. This past September, she ruffled a lot of feathers by joining the Squad’s sworn enemy, 50 Cent, onstage right in Joe’s home borough of the Bronx. No less a powerful voice than New York’s No. 1 radio DJ, Funkmaster Flex, trashed her on Hot 97. (“Stop blaming Fat Joe for your situation,” Flex said. “If you’re hot, you’re gonna get felt. If you’re not, you’re not. There’s nobody to blame!”) Her recent mixtape Shesus Khryst has met with controversy, and some disdain, for its cover art and a video depicting Remy on the cross, like Tupac (and, of course, Jesus). The hip-hop gossip blogs can’t seem to stop tearing her apart. (“Her crew looks like three trannies chillin’ outside the ’jects,” wrote of the video for another song, “Jump.”)

Most seriously, Remy Ma, the mother of a seven-year-old son, is facing attempted-murder charges. According to newspaper reports, she and some friends, including a woman named Makeda Barnes-Joseph, spent the night of Friday, July 13, partying at the Pizza Bar in New York’s Meatpacking District. Outside on the street, around 4 a.m. Saturday, witnesses said there was an altercation after it was discovered that $2,000 in cash was missing from Remy’s purse, which Barnes-Joseph had been holding. Police responding to 911 calls found Barnes-Joseph shot twice in the abdomen and discovered Remy’s blue Cadillac Escalade abandoned a few blocks from the scene, crashed into a parked car. Barnes-Joseph was taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital. Remy turned herself in and pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder, assault and criminal weapon possession. She was released on $250,000 bail and left Rikers Island cursing and spitting a wad of gum at photographers as their cameras flashed. She maintains that she didn’t shoot anyone that night, while her lawyer is motioning for the charges to be reduced from murder to assault. Though she’s under legal mandate not to discuss the incident, it’s impossible to ignore. “Why me, why me?” she asks, like she really wants to know. “I’ve been thrown into all types of crazy predicaments, and I just have to get through it. And this too shall pass.”

While she waits for it to pass, or go to trial, Remy Ma lives in limbo. She’s set to release her second official album, PunisHer, but she isn’t currently signed to a label. She’s supposed to watch what she says, but she says whatever she wants.

Let’s talk about that night back in July when you allegedly shot Makeda Barnes-Joseph. Was she a close friend of yours?
I had just met that girl a year ago. But I treat all my friends how I would want them to treat me. And that’s why it’s crazy to be in a situation where somebody I consider my friend is talking crazy about me. I love my friends. They are very dear. And I’m usually a very good judge of character… Like, what the fuck did I miss?

How has the case been affecting you?
I’m used to people saying the foulest shit about me since I was young, but this is really affecting my career. I was supposed to be overseas on tour, and the promoters pulled out. Then there was a big concert, and the Nokia Theater didn’t want me to perform. Now I’m a “safety risk.”

But don’t they say that all press is good press?
Um, I haven’t really reached that point yet. [Laughs] So far, it’s all fuckin’ bad!

Is it hard to smile for the cameras when this case is hovering over you?
I don’t wanna go nowhere! Everyone wants to talk about the same shit. Like, “Rem, you holding your head up? I know you bust your guns!” People are stupid. One of the first shows after it happened, I’m in the bathroom, and this girl kept bumping into me. I’m like, normally this is when her face would go through the mirror. And if I put her face through the mirror, it’s like, “See, I told you she’s violent!”

Have the businesspeople around you tried to get you to tone down, to change your image?
I’ve had so many media trainings, so many publicists. But it’s easier to be me than to remember to be this person that they want me to be. Don’t say this, dress like this, make a song about this. I never listened… Everyone’s like, “Oh, don’t say that! That could affect the case!” But I’ve already said the worst shit. I’ve said everything bad I could possibly say. There’s more than enough material. I cannot live my life based around this case… If I listen to myself and it fucks up, I fucked up. But if I listen to you and it fucks up, I’m gonna go fuckin’ crazy! Somebody’s gonna get hurt!

Does your son know about the legal drama that you’re going through?
I’m sure he does. I haven’t sat down and told him. If he asked me, I wouldn’t lie. Kids are very intelligent. All you have to do is Google your mom’s name, and there’s a billion fuckin’ stories about her. I’m a strong believer that just because your parents are something doesn’t mean you have to go through that. So he’s good.

The Internet loves to hate you.
I’ll be getting dressed and getting my hair done, like, “The bloggers are gonna kill this outfit tomorrow.” I’m wearing an orange sweat suit with lime-green spandex and fuckin’ purple clogs and blue contacts, and I’m putting my bangs back blonde! I be getting dressed, like, “Media Takeout’s gonna have a field day tomorrow! Bossip, here I come!”

With all the talk about you, it was surprising that your solo album didn’t sell well. Is that why you wanted out of your deal?
If you feel I’m not making you any money, and I feel you’re not making me any money, let’s part ways. I’m not blaming Joe for my album sales, I’m just over and done with it. I wasn’t happy with the way things were being marketed and promoted… And it wasn’t no big deal. Universal signed the papers. Steve Rifkind signed the papers. But for 11 months I was going through paperwork with Joe. He put a “no G-Unit” clause in the papers. How are you involving my career in your personal grudges? If I’m not with you, why can’t I do what I want?

So to get out of the contract, you had to sign that you wouldn’t work with anyone from G-Unit?
Everybody’s like, “Are you serious?!” And then everyone laughs. I’m telling you, their government names [are all in the paperwork], like even Prodigy, Havoc, Whoo Kid, Olivia, Hot Rod! I don’t even know this guy Hot Rod! Young Buck, Yayo. It’s like, “Calm down, are you that pressed?” It’s so petty… Am I saying to him, “You can’t do any songs with Lil’ Kim or Foxy Brown”?

You can’t collaborate with anyone from that crew forever?
For three years. So Joe’s checking their charts, calculating, like, hopefully in three years G-Unit fell off.

THIS IS ONLY A PREVIEW! Check out XXL’s January/February issue to read our full Q&A with Remy Ma!

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