Seven months after the finale of "Insecure," Issa Rae is returning to TV — this time, behind the camera. "Rap Sh!t," her new HBO Max show, follows a Miami rap girl group's rise.
Shawna (Aida Osman), at a dead-end job at a hotel desk, and Mia (KaMillion), a single mom and makeup artist, are estranged high school friends who reconnect in life. Shawna wants to rap about social issues like predatory lending; Mia is more concerned with making it. Turns out their "opposites attract" approach makes for great music.
Speaking to TODAY for our first-ever cover story, Rae said the show was inspired by an early version of "Insecure," which saw Issa Dee (her character) actually pursuing a music career, instead of just rapping in the mirror.
Rae said she strayed from that conception of the character to make the show "more grounded," but returned to the concept for "Rap Sh!t." Rae is the show's head writer; Syreeta Singleton is the showrunner.
She was also inspired by the spate of women rappers who have risen lately, naming Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion as examples. Social media is a huge part of the show, to demonstrate its role in helping aspiring rappers get exposure.
“Thinking about this time in music, it just feels different,” Rae says. “There’s so many women rappers who are killing it. There are beefs here and there, but for the most part they all seem to be having a good time. They support each other, and that world felt interesting to me. So I just started thinking about the music industry and what the come up would look like, and the come up specifically through the lens of the internet," she said.
Here's what to know about "Rap Sh!It."
The show's first episode premieres in July
"Rap Sh!t" is released on HBO Max on July 21. The first season has eight half-hour episodes.
The show stars KaMillion and Aida Osman
KaMillion and Aida Osman star as the estranged high school friends who reconnect and, after a quick Instagram Live rap gets exposure, decide to form a rap group.
KaMillion, who plays Mia, is a rapper and writer who appeared on "Love & Hip Hop Miami." Writer and comedian Osman, who plays Shawna, was a co-host on the podcast "Keep It," a story editor for HBO’s "Betty" and writer for Netflix’s "Big Mouth."
Showrunner Singleton spoke to HuffPost about the characters' dynamic. “They both kind of need each other without really realizing it,” Singleton explained. “Shawna needs to chill the f--- out and take a different perspective and a different approach, which she’s able to loosen up with around Mia. Mia also needs to allow herself to dream. That’s something that she gets from Shawna.”
Comedian Jonica Booth also stars as the rap duo's eventual manager.
Notably not on screen is Rae. After starring on "Insecure," Rae said she's happy to be in a new role. “There’s obviously still pressure, but the cast killed it, and I really do believe that it’s such a fun summertime show … I really just hope people like it and f— with it and embrace it, and just have a good time watching it," she told TODAY.