The oft-glamourized world of rap music stardom takes center stage in the upcoming HBO Max series Rap Sh!t, created and executive produced by Issa Rae and Insecure alum Syreeta Singleton.
The series, which is loosely based on the popular rap duo the City Girls (who also serve as co-EPs), will tell the story of “two estranged high school friends from Miami, Shawna (played Aida Osman) and Mia (played by the real-life Grammy-winning rapper KaMillion), who reunite to form a rap group.” What makes this story stand out, as opposed to previous shows that may have broached the same topic, is the fact that it’s told from the very unique and sometimes very polarizing vantage point of women rappers.
From the central character’s plights to the fire-ass soundtrack, the series takes to task the hardships women rappers have to deal with on their rise to success and the double standards that orbit around them as they ascent. And it’s those hardships and the innermost struggles of ladies with mad lyrics trying to make it that were of immense interest and intrigue to both Rae and Singleton.
“We’re such big fans of female rap. And for me, music is such a big part of storytelling so to set something specifically in this world, like where we had a reason to curate music. Like, literally our main characters are making music, like come on. That was extremely exciting,” Rae told The Root. “But in particular, this time of the abundance of female rappers really excited me and the criticism of the abundance of female rappers and the subject matter of what they chose to rap about also fills me because it felt like a double standard. No one’s criticizing all these male rappers that sound similar. But you have certain prominent males who feel like they have a say in what we can—what our content can be. And that’s across mediums. There’s a constant policing of the stories women can tell about themselves and I find that interesting.”
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Added Singleton, in speaking to The Root: “We’re writers. We’re creatives as well who have had to figure out and own our own voices too. So I think that there’s a really nice parallel between us and our storytelling and the storytelling that we see women in rap doing. It was something that was really fun to explore. It’s not like any other project that I’ve done. The research that I do for the show is like the research that I do on my down time because I just like scrolling. So, it was just really fun to write something that you’re naturally interested in and feel close to. [It] was an exciting opportunity.”
The first two episodes of Rap Sh!t premieres Thursday, July 21 beginning at 9p.m.ET only on HBO Max.