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.—Mark Lelinwalla (Q&A by Amber McKynzie)

XXL: It’s been three and a half years now. How have you managed your relationship with Pap?

Remy Ma: Every day of the week, he was here except for one day—if I couldn’t have visitors on Saturday, he would come on Sunday, and if he couldn’t come on Sunday, then he would come on Saturday. Every day that I had a visit, he was here—8:30 in the morning to 3:30, every day. Interviews and everything that was scheduled would be here after our visits. And he was like, “I live here as long as you here.”

And what about your relationship with your kids?

And the kids, they’re crazy. If I be like, “I have a son,” my stepson is like, “Why I gotta be the word step?” So now I’m like, “I got two sons, two daughters,” and that’s it. They, like, hard body. You can’t tell them they not the flyest things since airplanes. We don’t talk to them like they’re kids. They go to my hearings; they went to my sentencing. They know what it is. Hopefully, they never end up in a situation like this. Because they have seen it firsthand, at a young age.

Do you talk to your kids every day?

I talk to them. Everything they do, they do it like I’m there. Like, if they having a party at the house, they take pictures, and they write on the back, like, “This is the picture. Your song just came on.”

How hard is it, not being able to be with them every day?

It hits them hard. I start crying. I have to tell them, “It’s all right. It’s almost over. Be thankful that you’re not one of the people whose mom is never coming home.”

So even though the situation is bad, you sound like you know you have it better than others.

I think about it now, and I really count my blessings. People’s kids die while they’re in here. Not grown kids—babies. They mothers die while they in prison; they fathers die. They lose they house. They lose custody of they kids. They husbands leave them. They never see they friends again. They fuckin’ get strung out on drugs. They get strung out on girls; now they gay. I’m so close to how
I was that I’m really blessed. I never wake up and feel like, Oh, my God, my life is over. I count back yesterday—four years where everything just went topsy-turvy on me. Two years from now, I’ll be sayin’, “It’s over. It’s done.”

So what are your plans for after you get out?

Pap always laughs when I tell him, but I want to do two more albums and then become a wedding planner. That’s something how people are like, “I want to open a restaurant.” Or, “Oh, I want to start a clothing line.” I want a wedding-planning business, and make special days come together. And charge them a lot of money to do it. When I get out of here, oh, nobody gonna be able to stop me! I’m unstoppable!