Remy Ma grew up in Castle Hill Projects in the Bronx, New York, and often saw the consequences and terrors of her family's drug abuse with her own eyes. She was forced to take care of her little brothers and sisters at a young age and retreated from her home issues by writing poetry. Her reputation quickly grew around the Bronx and word eventually got to the late MC Big Pun of her and her work. After one meeting and a freestyle session, Pun immediately became her mentor. Ma made her first appearances in the music industry on Big Pun's album Yeeeah Baby (under the name Remy Martin) on the tracks "Ms. Martin" and "You Was Wrong".
After the death of Big Pun, rapper Fat Joe signed Smith to his imprint label under SRC and Universal and made her a member of Terror Squad. Following the success of Lean Back, which garnered Remy a Grammy nomination, Remy Ma released three singles from her debut album There's Something About Remy: Based on a True Story, the club-anthems "Whuteva", "Conceited" and "Feels So Good" The album moved 37,000 units in its opening week and 158,000 units within the first
year, the album received reviews from XXL Magazine with XL to Rolling Stone and Vibe Magazine despite its low sales. Remy was frustrated at the way the album was being promoted by Universal and felt that the label wasn't releasing the right singles. With the solo album's lackluster debut, Smith decided to end her relationship with Fat Joe and the Terror Squad, breaking her deal with SRC/Universal in the process.
In 2008, Papoose and his cousin stated that he and Remy Ma were to be married, but due to Ma's impending prison sentence of potentially up to 15–25 years, the couple had changed their plans and intended to marry in her jail instead. Papoose whiled off in jail, but the wedding was called off for one day after he allegedly attempted to smuggle a key into the jail on their wedding day in May 2008. After the incident, Ma married Papoose the next day inside the courtroom right before sentencing and he was barred from visiting her for six months. Since then, they had conjugal visits every six weeks. Remy provided updates posted via her official Twitter and MySpace pages. She was released in 2014.