With a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence behind her, rapper Remy Ma shows zero signs of resentment. While munching on a plate of leafy greens, grape tomatoes and grilled chicken at VH1 HQ, she uses her hands to emphasize her points, smiles frequently and act like your real-life BFF instead of the Terror Squad MC who had reason to be cocky on the 2005 smash “Conceited.”
Seven years ago, it might have been a different Rem. She was convicted of intentional assault after shooting a member of her entourage in 2007. After serving six years of her eight-year sentence, she strutted out of the pen in high spirits. Her husband, rapper Papoose, stood by her throughout incarceration, even getting thrown out of courtrooms and inking a tattoo tribute to his wife.
Now, Reminisce Smith is turning the page on a new chapter in life with VH1’s reality series Love & Hip Hop New York. She recently told Billboard how showrunner Mona Scott-Young convinced her and Papoose to join the cast for years, her musical agenda for 2016 and her collaborator wishlist (Hint: Beyhive). LHHNY returns to small screens on Monday, Dec. 14 on VH1 at 8/9c.
You and Papoose are joining Love & Hip Hop: New York. How did that opportunity come about?
[The producers were] actually were trying to get me and my husband to do it for years now. When i was in prison, they wanted to catch that dynamic of him coming to visit me and me being away and I just couldn’t do it. It sounded like it would’ve been cool footage but I really was going through a traumatic situation — I was in prison, I had an eight-year sentence and was like, ‘I don’t care about no reality TV. I don’t care about nothing. I just want to get out.’ It was Mona Scott-Young who really got to us. She was like, ‘I know what the stereotype is of [the show]. People feel like it’s a graveyard for rappers and then there’s the craziness of drinks being thrown, spitting, fighting, like I don’t want to be any parts of that. But when we sat down [with Mona] and we were actually talking. she explained how she wanted to get back to the essence [of the show]. She wanted something that personified and reflected the title Love & Hip Hop. She was like, ‘I feel like you guys are that.’
Before you started filming, did you have a sit-down with Papoose to come up with a game plan in case something crazy panned out in front of the camera?
I’m more spur-of-the-moment. I’m really just like, ‘You wanna go bungee jumping? Sure!’ I’m a gemini. [Pap]’s a pisces — he’s more of like a planner, like ‘What if this happens?’ I’m like, ‘Babe, we’re good. I feel like we’ve been through everything. Whatever adversity you think we could go through as a couple, we’ve been through it and I’m like, ‘We just be us’ and that’s what we did. I really feel like we’re a normal couple and we go through normal couple shit and that’s what makes it so crazy — you don’t see that on TV. People are trying to act like they’re balling all day with cars, their house, like there’s no problems. I feel like a lot of people are trying to be someone they’re not and when you’re just yourself, life is so much easier because you don’t have to keep up this facade.
I can imagine being yourself in a room full of personalities presented its own set of challenges. What was it like mingling with your LHHNY co-stars?
Well I don’t know if it was purposely done but I didn’t get to mingle with other co-stars as much as other people would think. Like if I don’t hang with you in real life, I’m not gonna hang with you here [on TV]. There’s some people who I feel do things so that they can be more famous — I’m not there for that. I feel like I didn’t wanna be around anyone that represented that or that was their goal so and I think the producers and the people working the show, they understood that.
You seem very protective of your brand.
Yes, especially after all that I’ve been through. like I’m doing so much damage control, I’d be damned if I let somebody who wants to get a couple of seconds of fame [off me] so nah, I’m not doing that.