#IssaRaeHive, we eatin! Her latest HBO series Rap Sh!t premiered last night and we'll be recapping every episode on xoNecole. This week, we got the treat of episodes one and two in the same night, so let's get into the hour-long premiere of "Something for the City" and "Something for the Girls."
The series starts off giving us location, location, location! An image of earth from space zooms in to show us Miami, Florida, a special flavor of the Black South, but our first introduction to it is through Instagram Stories. People are partying, people are on vacation, all turning up for the cameras. That's when we meet our main character Shawna (Aida Osman), a hotel clerk checking in a group of white women having a bachelorette party. When she's immediately recognized by another hotel guest as being a rapper whose protest anthem went viral a few years back, we're taken out of the Instagram Stories filter and into real life, and it's not a party. Shawna is stuck working at the Plymouth Hotel instead of being paid for her music.
The hotel guest thinks Shawna gave up on rapping and encourages her to keep going, but she assures him, she's still rapping and tries to play a video for him as proof. He's not feeling her "Women's History Month" rhymes and politely backs away, showing us why Shawna's had to resort to hotel clerking in the first place. Her conscious lyrics, baggy clothes, masked face and giant afro are just not resonating with the masses. Like her co-worker Maurice tells her, "You always complaining about being slept on, but you the one putting them to sleep!" That might be why her friend from college who works at Spotify is ducking her calls and texts.
Meanwhile her ex-producer Francois Boom (played hilariously by the Twitter-infamous Jaboukie Young-White) is making big money producing a white woman rapper who got her face and body done to look more "ethnic". We learn Shawna had dropped out of college to work with Francois but he ended up putting her on the back burner to focus on white artists who want to culturally appropriate. Seeing Francois burning money on IG because he's "so rich" prompts Shawna to go Live and announce her retirement from rap, since nobody wants to listen to a woman rapper who's not showing ass and titties.
A FaceTime call from Mia (KaMillion) makes Shawna think it must be a butt-dial. The high school friends haven't spoken in years. But Mia assures her it's no accident, she's a make-up artist working for that bachelorette party at Shawna's hotel and needs someone to watch her daughter since her kid's father Lamont (RJ Cyler) didn't pick her up like he was supposed to. Shawna helps out and Mia promises to pay her back with a favor. The two have gone in different directions over the years -- Mia's also a sex worker who went from clubs to OnlyFans - and they don't agree on using your body to make money or sell a message, but there's a hint of love there.
Frustrated over the day's events, Shawna picks a fight with her long-distance boo, Cliff, who's in law school in New York and letting one of his study buddies flirt with him. She asks Mia if she wants to get drinks. Mia's also upset over Lamont not pulling his weight, so she agrees to get drinks with Mia. After they get drunk together, they go on IG Live and freestyle a song based on their catchphrase from high school: Seduce and Scheme. Shawna wakes up the next morning to a flood of likes and comments like her music has never seen. Though her boyfriend texts her to make up for the fight, Shawna FaceTime's Mia instead, ready to form a rap group. There's only one thing she's excited about, and that's making music that connects.
In episode two, "Something for the Girls," Mia and Lamont are taking shots at each other on IG Live while Mia's at her third job and now their daughter is getting in trouble at school. Shawna's steady trying to get her friend Jill that works at Spotify to repost her music, but Jill's being shady. Meanwhile Shawna's boyfriend Cliff finds out Mia does sex work and gives Shawna misogynistic hell for it, worried about his image, since he wants to be the next Barack. Shawna "can be Melania," his friends joke.
But Mia and Shawna are determined to make this Rap Sh!t work. They link up to record in Shawna's homemade studio (which she got from stealing people's credit card numbers at the Plymouth), but Mia is not feeling Shawna's rapping from the perspective of Sallie Mae. "Bitch, is you rappin bout student loans?!" Best line of the episode. They're just not on the same page with the vision and go their separate ways again.
Mia has Lamont on FaceTime as they conference with their daughter's teacher to find out that she needs to work on her anger, but is also really smart and her teacher wants to put her in a space camp. Mia and Lamont bond over how special their daughter is and how different their lives could've been if they had a teacher like their daughter's. He also cash apps her the money for the rent and they're back cool again.
Mia looks into Shawna's old rap videos and gets a better understanding of her perspective. She meets up with her at the Plymouth and Shawna explains why she doesn't want to dress sexy and covers up. ""My art is not for the male gaze!" Shawna says. "Girl, what the gay niggas got to do with it?" Mia replies and I fell out. In what may be the best non-rhyming rap battle ever on screen, Shawna and Mia have it out over Black women in hip hop and whether we're in a Bad Bitch Renaissance or if the women are all controlled by some powerful men crafting their image and writing their lyrics behind the scenes. Points were made on both sides, but Mia wins out when she says, "You letting these niggas control you. You so worried about making art for them, they got you in a hoodie and fucking mask. Bitch, we in Miami, it's hot as fuck!"
Shawna can't even respond on that one! They head back to the studio and make a fun record about seducing and scheming, with no men controlling them. Shawna is actually so empowered by their rap session that she finally has FaceTime sex with her boyfriend even though he does NOT DESERVE IT!
Catch us next week for Ep. 3!
Tasha from Insecure (Dominique Perry) says "What did Maya Angelou say? 'When someone shows you who they are, remember dat.'"
"A broke nigga have my pussy like a bag of chips, just dryyyyy."
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.