Issa Rae’s City Girls-inspired musical dramedy, Rap Sh!t, has returned for a second season of Miami-based indie rap shenanigans on Max. With its return comes another season soundtrack packed with the underground hip-hop and R&B talent that makes the show’s tale of a burgeoning buddy rap duo sing.
As with Rae’s prior hit show, Insecure, the soundtrack not only lends the narrative its authenticity but also propels the story forward as songs written for its stars Mia and Shawna (portrayed by Kamillion and Aida Osman, respectively) reflect their struggles and triumphs, while songs inspired by show’s events set the tone for their quest through Miami’s nightlife in search of their big break.
While the last season’s soundtrack highlighted songs from rising rap stars like Dreezy, Jean Deaux, Tokyo Jetz, and more, this season brings even more emerging voices to the foreground, like Cam & China, Connie Diiamond, and Guapdad 4000 (and many, many more, including breakout sensation Sexyy Red). They, along with Raedio VP Sarah Bromberg and the label’s General Manager Xtina Prince, gave Uproxx some insight into how the show highlights the future of music — and how the music makes the show another Issa Rae hit in its own right.
What is the core theme of this season narratively and how does the soundtrack/song tie into that theme?
Sarah Bromberg – Raedio VP, Music Supervision & Library: The season taps into the artist’s struggle to succeed and all of the outside factors that can influence a breaking artist when they are on that journey to become established. In creating music for the show, especially for the soundtrack, we brought in both artists that have reached that established place and those that are still on the journey there. In that way, some of the pairings on the soundtrack are almost a reflection of the story told this season.
Xtina Prince – Raedio General Manager: This season is full of drama. Drama with family, Drama with ego, Drama with competition, Drama in relationships. This season was hard. It has light and funny moments that create a balance but it is definitely serious. Records like “He Can’t Reach,” that talk about moving on from a relationship with your pride and self-respect and the airy and sinister production on tracks like “On Site” and “Want No Beef” were the perfect backdrops to the moments of intensity and struggle reflected in this season.
What are the challenges and advantages of writing/producing a song intended for television/narrative rather than radio/playlist/stage?
Connie Diiamond: When it comes to television there’s usually a narrative/topic they need you to stick to. When I’m creating dolo, I can do and say what I want. Overall it’s still a great experience and it pushes me to be greater than what I already am.
Cam & China: One of the challenges we come across is writing lyrics outside of ourselves as artists and seeing things in perspectives within the task we have at hand without sounding cheesy. Since we own being authentic artists ourselves, we take pride in spilling that into everything we do no matter the circumstances.
With that being said, one of the great advantages of writing for anything/anyone outside of ourselves is creating our own imaginary character and putting our all into assuring it feels real and loving what we’ve accomplished and sometimes wanting it for ourselves lol. We appreciate these tasks because not only do they challenge us, but they also better us as artists.
Guapdad 4000: They often don’t use the whole song; it’s very specific so each section needs to completely articulate the energy or mood of the scene. This, of course, contrasts with making something for radio, or the playlist, or stage, because there are a lot less controlled elements. Both are challenging and fun to me either way.
Which Rap Sh!t character do you relate to the most and how are you alike/different from them?
Cam & China: We relate to Shawna the most. We know how it feels for your family to resent you for rapping and having a lot to lose. We also know how it feels to get turned down or humiliated for standing up for yourself and calling out people’s bluffs, especially the ones in higher power that people try to overlook because of it. We also relate to how driven she is for her career and how she likes to play the back.
Guapdad 4000: Some days I am Shawna standing on my feelings, some days I am Mia trying to stand on business, so I switch off as they make mistakes and develop. Fortunately, I am pretty much never Reina Reign.
Connie Diiamond: Definitely KaMillion, that’s my girl on and off camera. I resonate more with her because I know her struggle in real life. It’s very similar to the script. Just a creative tryna make it. I love her, I love the show, and I love Issa Rae for shining the light on the girlies.
The show is oddly true to life in how it depicts the music industry. Which of your own experiences would make a good episode?
Guapdad 4000: Oh nothing much in my life to write an episode about. I’ve only dealt with small things such as poverty, traumatic brushes with death and jail, tragic losses of houses and loved ones, severe combination type ADHD — that might actually be autism — manic episodes followed by my famous season-long mental breakdowns, and not to mention my career working backwards and the constant battle that is being an independent artist. So you know… I clearly don’t have much to talk about.
Connie Diiamond: My experience would be the entire signing process for me. From creating a freestyle, going viral, & then having the CEO of a major label having an interest in signing me. I think that’s every artist’s dream. To genuinely make a statement and then being rewarded with the recognition of a major label.
Cam & China: Being told what to look like, what sells, and what to wear to be successful, or how we should dumb it down and rap sexier, all while taking away from our authentic self and ignoring what we can do with music. People hear music differently once they see what you look like but if you have an ear for talent, or just a dope ass artist all around and relatable? Nothing else matters.
Rap Sh!t season 2 is now streaming on Max. Rap Sh!t: The Mixtape (From The Max Original Series, S2) is out now via Raedio, LLC and Def Jam Recordings.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.