It's 8 o'clock on a warm Monday morning in June, and 32-year-old rapper Shamele "Papoose" Mackie is pulling his black Cadillac escalade into the parking lot of the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women, in Westchester County, New York. It's a 40-minute trek he makes up to three times per week from his New Jersey residence, to see the love of his life, his incarcerated wife, Reminisce “Remy Ma” Smith.

Remy, 30, is in the fourth year of her eight-year sentence for assault and weapons charges stemming from the July 2007 shooting of Makeda Barnes-Joseph outside of a Manhattan nightclub. This past February, an appeal she had filed was denied, signaling that she may well have to complete her full term.

Unless a final appeal being prepared by her lawyers is granted, she will be behind bars until 2015.

But on this particular day, there’s no discussion about the time Remy has remaining on her bid. It’s the time Remy has
now with her husband, son and stepson. (Her son and his three children range in age between 11 and 13.)

At this moment, gone is the rough exterior of Remy Ma, the former Terror Squad rapstress who shined on the Grammy-nominated “Lean Back” in 2005. In an olive-green jumpsuit, Remy is mother and wife today, showering the two young boys with hugs and kisses, cleaning off the top of a soda can before one of them takes a sip and asking if they finished their homework. She kisses Pap three times, gripping his hand tight, and the two do their special handshake, which ends with them each throwing up first two and then four fingers—for “two-gether four-ever,” according to Pap.

After accompanying Papoose on his visit, XXL set up phone interviews with each half of the MC couple. (Department of Corrections regulations prohibit inmates from taking part in three-way calls.) Here, Remy and Papoose talk about what it’s like to hold down a family under such challenging circumstances.

“I can’t wait ’til she’s out,” Pap says. “I can’t wait.” — Mark Lelinwalla

XXL: How did you and Remy meet?

Papoose: Slay [Pap’s mentor, DJ Kay Slay] always spoke highly of her, and one time he had hit me, like, she wants to do a song with me. So eventually she came to the studio in one of our sessions, and we did a track together called “Bonnie and Clyde.” I think that was the Cutting Room Studio, in Manhattan. At the old Cutting Room, though, on 678 Broadway. On the track, I was throwing a lot of—I was flirting on the track, you know what I mean? Well, she ain’t really flirt on the track. She just did her. But I was flirting on the track. We just never lost contact after that. We always stayed in contact.

Can you describe the moment when you heard the verdict in Remy’s trial?

The night before they had her verdict, Remy left that morning, and I was asleep when she left. She kissed me, she left, “See you later.” I was actually coming behind her that particular day. I was gonna just come that day. I was on the West Side Highway and shit, actually took a cab, ’cause driving to Manhattan sucks sometimes. So I was driving in a car service, and she started texting me. One of my mans was there—one of my close friends was there already. We were gonna meet there at the court. She started texting me, like, “Yo, where are you? They starting to surround me. A lot of officers in here. They starting to surround me. I got a bad feeling.” I was like, “Yo, I’m on my way. I’m almost there.” But I was fuckin’ stuck in traffic. And my man, he had me on the phone, and he was like, “Yo, I don’t even wanna go in there.” But he was standing right by the door and shit. He was like, “Yo”—she was texting me, so we was texting back and forth. I was like, “Yo, just stay calm. It’s gonna be aight. I’m sure the truth gonna come out.” So she was just describing to me the environment, and after a while, she stopped responding. So it was, like, quiet. Then I heard somebody made, like, a loud uproar and shit. I was like, “What happened?” My man was like, “Yo, she blew.” Shit! I couldn’t believe that shit, man. Even talking about that shit now, that shit gives me chills. What the fuck? That shit was ridiculous. I eventually got to the courthouse. I’ve never seen her free since that day, you know what I’m saying? She had a lot of family members there, and everyone was upset. It was like a funeral.

Like a funeral?

To me, that’s what a courthouse is like. I get the same type of feeling when I go in the funeral and I go in the court building.
I get the same type of feeling because I don’t feel like one person or no amount of people should be able to judge a person’s life
like that. Just people getting 50 to life, 100 to life. You got people that are doing 25 to life, and you find out they’re innocent. How can you repay that, you know what I’m saying? It’s a lot of innocent people in jail; it’s a lot of guilty people in jail. But it’s a lot of innocent muthafuckas that’s incarcerated, you know? So I guess justice is blind. It’s all based on how good you prove your case, not whether you’re guilty or innocent. It’s bullshit. Long story short, it was like a funeral. Lot of tears, man.

Did you cry?

Nah, I didn’t cry. I refuse to cry. You know what I’m saying? I ain’t gonna do that. I gotta be strong for her. I gotta be strong for our kids. ’Cause I know it’s gonna be better days. This shit don’t break me, man. It don’t break me.