After previewing her upcoming HBO Max series Rap Sh!t with a twerk-tastic teaser, Issa Rae finally shared the official trailer today, revealing more detail about the show’s plot. While previous descriptions had the show sounding like an unofficial City Girls biography (they’re listed as executive producers), the series will actually address the fractious dichotomy facing women who pursue careers in rap.
The narrative follows two estranged high school friends from Miami, Mia and Shawna, as they reunite and form a rap duo. However, there’s friction within their ranks as Shawna (comedian Aida Osman) dreams of making it as a more socially-conscious rapper, lamenting the industry’s expectations of booty-baring and rump-shaking for women in hip-hop (as one observer puts it in the trailer, “Just say you want to be Queen Latifah!”). Meanwhile, the more freewheeling Mia (Love and Hip Hop: Miami star KaMillion) is a single mother willing to do whatever it takes to provide for her four-year-old daughter. Over the course of the show, they will learn to lean on their sisterhood, even when they’re at odds over how to present themselves as Black women in entertainment — or in general.
They’ll also encounter Miami nightlife characters who try to help them reach their goals, such as Chastity a “sex work manager” with connections throughout the industry as a result of her profession, and Jaboukie Young-White’s music producer Francois Boom, whose arrogant social media posts both inspire and discourage Shawna, his former classmate. News flash, kids: That money your favorite rappers flash on camera isn’t always the real deal.
The show seems to tie together threads from the last few years of discourse as new female rappers have emerged on the scene and detailed their struggles with the rap biz’s double standards for them, such as Rapsody and Cardi B being pitted against each other, Latto’s insistence that women have to do twice as much as their male peers for less recognition, and City Girls’ own insistence that they could have made more “relevant” content but that consciousness isn’t commercially viable. I guess you could say the show kind of is their biography — and the biography of any woman trying to make it in hip-hop.
Watch the official trailer for Rap Sh!t above.