MANHATTAN: On Tuesday, May 13, Supreme Court Justice Rena Uviller sentenced Rapper Remy Ma, born Reminisce Smith, to 8 years in prison. Remy Ma was found guilty on March 27th on two charges of first-degree assault, attempted coercion, and criminal possession of a weapon. The charges stem from the July 15th shooting of Makeda Barnes-Joseph. Remy was facing up to 25 years of jail time.
Remy’s past violent behavior was raised during her sentencing hearing. The prosecutor, Michael McIntosh, described Remy as a violent individual who needed to be locked up for at least 13 years for her actions. “Ms. Smith took an illegal 45-caliber automatic and loaded it with hollow-point bullets and got into Ms. Joseph’s car,” McIntosh said. He added that Smith ran after the incident instead of getting medical attention for her former friend.
Prosecutor McIntosh read a statement from the victim. Ms. Joseph, who was in the courtroom, said she did not understand how such a fun night could suddenly turn so violent. She said in her statement that they were having a great night hanging out, eating—one minute she was hugging Remy and the next she was bleeding in her car.
“After July 14, I stopped existing as a person,” Ms. Joseph wrote. “I am now known as a victim, a gold-digger, a groupie, a liar and thief.” Her statement continued: “I will always be the girl they will whisper about. I will always be the girl who was shot by Remy.” Ms. Joseph wrote that “never in a million years” did she think her friend would shoot her or that the friend would then proclaim her innocence in interviews and a criminal trial. “I learned to forgive Ms. Smith, but the question is how do I forget,” wrote Ms. Joseph. “She is making it so hard for me to do so.”
Remy gave an interview to DJ Kay Slay on May 4th: “Just because 12 people say something, who weren’t there, does not mean nothing. I’m not even mad at people. I’m mad at money or what lack of it does to people. It’s really sad,” she stated over the phone. “Ain’t nothing changed because I’m on the Island; I’m still the queen of NY. Don’t be mistaken about a jury that was not my peers. There was no tan [or] dark brown, Black—nothing on that jury. It’s a whole conspiracy against rappers right now so I already knew what it was.” She also said that there was an all-out war on rappers.
Remy Ma’s defense lawyer Ivan Fisher tried to portray her as a loving single mom and former spelling bee champion whose lyrics inspire the oppressed. “This is a woman whose life is very much worth saving,” said Fisher.
It was then Remy’s turn to address the court: “Throughout this unfortunate case, I was advised from my attorney to stay silent, but now I want you all to see me for me and what I’ve gone through,” said Remy as tears ran down her face. “Reporters and newspapers have called me a ‘hardcore rapper,’ a ‘hip-hop harlot’ [but] Remy Ma is just a music industry name. A facade. I’m not a thug. I’m not a hardcore anything. I have feelings. I’m Remy Smith; no, I’m Remy Mackie. I’m a wife, mother, daughter and big sister.” Mackie is the last name of rapper Papoose, her fiancée.
Remy continued to plead for leniency: “I’m not a menace to society and I still have so much to offer. I’m pleading with you to give me a second chance. My job, my child, my freedom; it’s all been stripped from me,” cried the rapper, who said her thuggish image was nothing more than a “music industry creation—a facade for entertainment.”
Before Remy sat down, she addressed Ms. Joseph: “I apologize,” she said, “and I’m sorry for not saving you. I feel so bad for all the physical and mental pain you went through, and go through. Myself, I have a lifetime scar on my face, so I know the pain you feel when I look in the mirror.”
Judge Uviller was unconvinced, saying Remy thinks she is free to take whatever actions she wants based on the hardships of her life. “This is a pattern,” said the judge. “The previous times haven’t been as severe. Smith doesn’t take responsibility for her actions. Her letter to the court and her statement today showed no remorse. She even painted herself as the victim.”
Judge Uviller continued: “She does not have real remorse for her actions, viewing herself in some way as a victim.” This is not about hip-hop. This is about the individual, Remy. She is a danger to others.”
Remy’s fiancé, rapper Papoose, whose real name is Shamele Mackie, was distraught after the sentencing. He lashed out at reporters: “I don’t want to talk. Get out of my face. You all write racist articles.” He also exchanged words with friends of Makeda Barnes-Joseph in the courtroom hallway. “Get the f@#k off me. F@#k ya’ll. F@#k jail,” screamed Papoose as his 10-person entourage restrained him and court officers told him to move it along and exit the hallway outside of Manhattan Supreme Court. “I don’t care. Lock me up. Lock me up. Take me to jail. Arrest me. It’s all about money,” he continued.
The day before, Papoose and Remy were to be married at Rikers Island, but Papoose was denied entry because of a skeleton key in his keychain that supposedly could be used to unlock handcuffs. Papoose stated that the key was there every time he had visited Remy. He was denied entrance to Rikers Island and banned from visiting Remy for 6 months. Remy was taken back to Rikers Island where she will await transfer to Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County, NY.
The 1998 Sentencing Reform Act (a.k.a. Jenna’s Law”) eliminated parole release for all violent felony offenders sentenced to state prison in New York State before they have served 6/7 of their court-imposed sentence. In Remy Ma’s case, this means she cannot be released before serving 6.8 years in prison. She has filed an appeal.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images