Remy Ma & Fat Joe Have A Raw Conversation On The Effects Of Prison & Coping With Trauma (Audio)
In a union of two of Terror Squad’s major players, earlier this year, Fat Joe and Remy Ma announced they were releasing a joint album. Since then they have been making the rounds discussing the project and their storied shared history.
Recently, Remy and Joe were guests on Shawn Setaro’s The Cipher Show, and they were treated to a very different type of interview than the ones to which they were accustomed. Setaro, who is the former Editor-In-Chief of Rap Genius, is tireless in his desire to leave no stone unturned and regularly researches for 20 hours in his preparation. Remy and Joe took note of Setaro’s deep dive several times during the interview, with Joe sometimes responding to inquiries with “how do you know that??” and Remy seconding the notion saying “no one has ever asked that before.”
During the 90-minute conversation, Remy and Joe cover a vast array of topics. Joe reflects on memories as a member of the Diggin’ In The Crates crew, stating the he believes Diamond D’s Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop is the crew’s best album (8:20) and Lord Finesse is their best MC (31:45). He also talks about the contrasts of Fat Joe Da Gangsta, a kid who had one toe in music and the other 9 in the streets, and the person he is now (44:28). Remy discusses the struggles of leaving home as a teenager (11:00) and how joining the cast of Love & Hip-Hop has changed her life (42:30). Setaro goes back and forth with each, pulling out various nuggets throughout.
It is an unfortunate life experience that Joe and Remy share, however, that causes each to dive as deep as they have in any interview (50:27). When Setaro asks Remy about the psychological aftermath of prison, Remy says “Oh, I definitely had PTSD. When I first came home, I got diagnosed. They said I had PTSD. Who would not have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?” Joe then asks her how she gets past that and Remy responds, “I don’t know. I guess the same way you get off depression. You eventually get better.”
Remy also talks about how short the time was between when she was sentenced and sent to prison, saying that it left little time for her to process the reality she was facing. “In the blink of an eye, I was just gone. They didn’t give me a chance to pack my house, situate my son, anything. It was just like ‘Remand. To jail you go. 8 years.'” In detailing the transition back to society after prison, she says “You get out and one day it’s just like ‘alright, you can go now.’ They open the doors and you’re like ‘Where do I start? Where do I begin to start my life.'” Noting how overwhelming even the most routine tasks can become, she says “I had to get my life back, and a lot of other people never get it back.” Remy also discusses how serving time continues to manifest in her current life, saying that she still wakes up every hour because of the pattern she developed when guards made the rounds several times per night, awakening her in prison, and also that she no longer trusts anyone, which is a stark contrast to how she was before the experience.
Remy’s discussion of her drama leads Setaro to ask her and Joe whether their music serves as a form of therapy for them (56:35). Without hesitation, Joe says “It’s been very therapeutic for me. First of all, Hip-Hop has changed my life. Without Hip-Hop, I’d probably be dead or in jail for sure. One million percent. That’s not a cliche. Making music has definitely been therapeutic for me.” In a poignant example, Joe details how he used music to cope with his son’s struggles with autism. “Joey was in critical condition because he’s autistic and he kept suffering from these seizures,” he says. “The only thing I could do was go to the studio after I leave the hospital and just make music and open up my mind. Other than that, anything anybody was telling me at the time was irrelevant. I didn’t even want to live. When your child goes through something so bad like that, you’re not even living. You’re walking around blank. But, I would go to the studio, put on a beat, and then start feeling like my normal self, until I left the studio.”
Joe and Remy dispel the myth, however, that being in prison is fertile ground for writing rhymes. Remy says “you don’t just have all this time to sit there and write all these great hit records.” (58:50) Remy’s words lead Joe to recite the only rap he wrote during his 4 months in prison, and Remy follows up with one of her few, as well (1:00:00).
Here is a full listing of topics covered during the extensive conversation:
3:15 Remy and Joe debate whether they are a “rap duo”
7:07 Joe shares memories of Amateur Night at the Apollo
8:20 Joe discusses Stunts, Blunt and Hip-Hop and D.I.T.C.
11:00 Remy speaks about her “favorite song ever” and living on her own as a teenager.
22:00 Joe details his history with graffiti
31:45 Joe calls Lord Finesse the inventor of the punchline
37:48 Joe reflects on mistakes he made with early businesses and the hard lessons he learned
42:30 Remy details the differences between her music fans and Love & Hip-Hop fans
44:28 Joe speaks on his early, rough persona where he “didn’t care for human life”
47:55 Joe reveals the mistake that kept him from having the greatest video of all time
49:11 Joe reflects on how hard times and depression after Pun’s death led to him looking back at his own life.
50:27 Remy Ma discusses having PTSD after leaving jail
1:00:03 Joe recites the only rhyme he wrote in jail.
1:08:11 Joe and Remy’s real-time reactions to the Afrika Bambaataa sexual abuse allegations
1:11:40 Joe and Remy discuss their early Bronx Hip-Hop memories
1:21:42 Joe recalls seeing Biz Markie bring out Big Daddy Kane for the first time
1:23:35 Joe shares memories of KRS-One and the Bridge Wars
1:36:50 Special remix of Fat Joe’s prison rhyme by donwill of Tanya Morgan