Remy Ma Leads The Femme Rap Pack In Grammy Nominations


Finding out you’re up for a Grammy Award while in Miami sounds like an ideal way to start a Monday morning in December. For 36-year-old music industry anchor Remy Ma, the nomination was unforeseen and gripping—she’s the only female rapper to be nominated.

The New York City-assembled musician has been nominated in not one, but two, categories—‘Best Rap Performance’ and ‘Best Rap Song’ for “All the Way Up“ featuring Fat Joe, French Montana and Infared. The best part of this story? This isn’t her first time girl powering on her own—Remy was the only female rapper to snag a Grammy nod back in 2005, too. This confirms that time hasn’t thieved her of signature lyrical lines, nor has it camouflaged her authentic and versed talent.

A name never dismissible when it comes to hip hop, Remy Ma has been in the industry since her teen years, gaining widespread fame with Fat Joe’s “Lean Back” 12 years ago. Since securing a foothold in music, she’s seen public feuds, a marriage, an incarceration, many award nominations, a collection of wins and reality television, leading us to believe she’s lived a thousand lifetimes and still remains adaptable and always applicable.

With a personal and professional trajectory that can only be propelled by a certain type of stamina, Remy shows us how to ascend all the way up. We caught up with the musician to discuss #feminism and what it’s like to run stag in rap.

Remy, you’re the only female rapper to be nominated – I remember when that happened in 2005. Congratulations!

„Thank you so much.“

Where were you when you found out?

„I’m in Miami right now. I was literally in my bed sleeping and my phone kept ringing. Holy shit! Thank you so much.“

How have things changed in the the 10 years since the last time you were the only female rapper nominated?

„Honestly, I didn’t even realize that I was the only female rapper nominated. When I found out the details about being nominated for two categories—that was the two cherries on top.

I don’t know as far as logistics like album sales and distribution go, but the whole monster of social media has definitely changed the dynamic of music business. On every other level to me it’s the same; as long as you put in that footwork, you’re going to get an outcome. It may not be positive or as great as you’d like it to be, but you’ll get something out of it.

If you’re a basketball player and throw the ball at the three-point line over and over again eventually it’s going to go in a few times. I believe that a lot of hard work, grinding, sticking to your craft and being consistent—no matter how many times you succeed or fail—will get you some type of result. That’s what I did as a kid, and that’s what I do now. If you allow social media, record sales or streaming numbers get in your head you could lose yourself because so much is digital and surrounded in social, but as long as you put the work in the results will show.“

You’ve been in the game for a long time—do you think it’s fair to say that rap is finally embracing female artists more than before?

„I don’t think I could say that. In 2005, I was the only female rapper nominated. I’m still the only female rapper nominated. That says a lot. I definitely feel like it’s deserved, because I put a lot of hard work to achieve this, but it’s still difficult. Females aren’t recognized on a countable scale. I can count females making major moves in the industry on one hand.“

Do you want to see more female rappers? What’s your take on making it when the system seems against you?

„I just want to see more talent—I don’t care about your sex or gender. I’m all about the talent. If you’re talented and you’re a female then that’s absolutely fantastic, because the more the merrier. What I don’t want to see is gimmicks and cartoon characters. I want to see real talent, because I’m more of a quality not quantity type of person.“

Do you think there are any hurdles you had 10-15 years ago that are now lowered? Or perhaps things you’ve had to deal with that new artists don’t need to face?

„I definitely think that so many people tend to doubt women when it comes to hip hop and rap. The industry thinks it’s going to be headache, ‚She’s a diva, we need clothes for her, we need make up for her, we need stylists. Female rappers are expensive.‘ That was the stigma when I first came into music as a teenger. They wanted you to be super sexy and there was no other way to go.

People are more respecting now. Today I don’t just have female fans. A lot of my fans are straight men that can relate to things I talk about. Our ability and our range of acceptable topics has broadened, as has our range of clothing and range of style. Females are given a bit more freedom as to what type of woman we want to be and still be acknowledged. We’re pulling away from the cookie cutter rap image.

When I started it was hard for me to be Remy Ma and walk through metal detectors; sometime I want to be conceited and put on heels and a dress. That’s why when I did my album cover [There’s Something About Remy: Based on a True Story] I had on a girly ruffled pink prom dress with Timberland combat boots, because female rappers shouldn’t have to be just one way.“

Is there anyone out there that you’re a fan of? Who do you listen to in your car?

„Besides myself? I’ve been listening to Ta’rhonda Jones, or Porsha on the show Empire. I met her when I was in Chicago. She’s so cool and so down to earth that it made me want to check out her music. Her thought process and the topics she touched on were interesting.“

Do you have any thoughts on how the Grammy nods might change between now and next year’s announcement? Do you think we’re making progress or do you anticipate being surprised?

„They did a great job this year. When I sat down and looked at the categories—and not just the ones I was in—I saw a lot of rappers who haven’t sold millions of records or who are on radio repeat 24/7. That’s so dope. Everyone is putting a lot of work into their craft. When politics are involved most of the time we can sit back and guess who’s going to be nominated. That gets so boring, because it discredits and devalues the entire awards show. To look at someone and see how great of a job they did, that’s amazing. Enough with the bullshit of favoritism, give it to the person deserving of it.

Knowing that Fat Joe and I are super independent and pay for everything out-of-pocket ourselves, I’m aware that we didn’t pay anyone to get a nomination. This shows us that somebody, somewhere is paying attention to the music out there and wants to honor that. It’s an exciting and humbling time.“

Tell me more about “Plata O Plomo.” I’m a huge Narcos fan, so I dig the album title.

„It’s coming out toward the end of January. We worked our butts off on this album. We’ve been constantly pressing, and I’m working on the album with Fat Joe while simultaneously working on my solo project. I’m trying to do everything I took for granted the first time I had a really great record. I was a dumb kid, and I didn’t understand the business side of things. This time I’m leaving no stone unturned.

In my entire career I’ve only put out one solo album, and it’s been difficult. Everyone wants to go with the new, hot thing, so very rarely do we have art from years ago, especially in the business of rap and hip hop. The legends keep fading away.

R&B is a bit different. I was just on stage for VH1’s Unsilent Night with Patti LaBelle and Chaka Khan, and they’re some of the greatest performers. Bruce Springsteen and Elton John do the same for rock music. But in rap you don’t see Big Daddy Kane or KRS-One anywhere. These artists were huge and made it possible for me to be doing what I’m doing today.“

Tell me about your solo project. This is exciting as you haven’t released anything on your own since 2006.

„The album that I’m currently working on is coming out next year and it’s called “Seven Winters & Six Summers,” which is how many season I was gone while I was in prison. I used to monitor how much time I had left based on the trees outside my window. I could see the tops of them through the bars, and I would watch them change. I knew when they were bare it was the winter of 2010 and I just needed to see the trees go bare a few more times before I’m out of there. Upon being released, I had gone through seven winters and six summers behind bars. I want to use this sophomore album to touch on what my day-to-day life and emotions are like and bring new and existing fans into my world and thought processes. I’m so thankful for every little thing now, because every little thing I can get is more than I had before. Back then I was in a dark place, and I never thought I’d have another record on the radio again, but I beat the depression. I have my wonderful husband with me, and I was able to reconnect with my mom, so there were some high points in there.“

How are you gonna celebrate your two Grammy nominations?

„My husband wants to reach out to Gatorade and get a big cooler to dump on my head, because he feels this is the biggest accomplishment. He was on the phone with my mom earlier planning a nomination dinner. I think in the end, I’ll just celebrate with more hard work to maybe get another nomination next year. That’s what I’m currently focused on. If I can make music and be there for my kid—that’s all I want.“


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