Rap Sh!t Marks Triumphant Return to HBO for Issa Rae | TV/Streaming



Rae has already shown a tendency to turn her city settings into main characters, and this time it’s Miami. One of the first shots of the series shows quick-but-stunning overhead views of the Florida city set to “Take it to da House” by Trick Daddy, Trina & The Slip-N-Slide Express—if you grew up in the early aughts you know that they are the official unofficial rulers of Miami. She pays homage to the city in musical form quite a bit, but also does so behind the camera, tapping Miami natives like Kid Fury as a writer, and the aforementioned City Girls as executive producers. She’s been in the game long enough that she knows—and probably learned the hard way—that if you are going to tell a story that so prominently features a city (or a community), you can’t do it properly without the help of folks who have lived experience to help create these worlds.

“Rap Sh!t” is shot chiefly through the characters’ phones as Facetime calls, text messages, and voice notes are used to tell the story. This has been done before, but it’s usually filmed so chaotically that it distracts from the story. In “Rap Sh!t,” not only does it make sense, it’s absolutely pivotal to the success of the show. Shawna and Mia live on their phones—particularly on social media—where we see the creation, maintenance, and destruction of their love lives, careers, friendships, and more. Rae was inspired by how much social media played a part in the trajectory of rappers like Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B, and wove that inspiration into the series. It’s also effective in its absence in that as real moments that don’t usually happen on a livestream unfold and the social media visuals gently fade away, we’re left with genuine conversations and reactions—it’s beautifully done.

In recent years, pop culture has been obsessed with ‘Black Girl Magic,’ so focused on the strong Black woman or other two-dimensional tropes that often lack full personalities and stories. This also leads to a dearth of Black girl friendships that aren’t wrought with constant strain. “Rap Sh!t” not only centers friendship but it’s a new one, one that is being rediscovered. Yes, there is judgment and bickering between the two, but there is also sweetness and care. It feels real as they discover each other’s flaws, uncover their needs, and learn about themselves through the eyes of another person. It’s dope to be able to watch a friendship come together and grow, rather than it be presented to us fully formed. It makes me, a Black girl viewer, even more invested to see where their fame and friendship goes over future seasons.



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