Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York. She's worked with clients like Instacart, Tailwind, Columbia, Esurance, and LifeLock.
Issa Rae's Follow Up to Insecure
I was super excited about this show when I heard Issa Rae was producer and writer. And when I found out it finally premiered on HBO Max, I had to watch it to see if it was as good as—or better than?—Insecure.
Because let’s face it. Insecure did what a lot of great black shows failed to do: Be entertaining, with funny, witty dialogue, with a great cast of actors, and still be award-worthy. Thanks to Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore, there’s a high bar for black shows.
That’s why I was nervous to try Rap Sh!t because Issa wasn't going to be in it. And I think a huge part of why Insecure was so successful was because Issa played the main character. I don’t think anyone could’ve done that role the way she did.
Anyway, here’s what I thought about Rap Sh!t.
The show starts out by delivering scenes via Instagram Stories. It’s creative and interesting, but you don’t really know what’s going on until the camera pans over and freezes on our main character, Shawna. She's not happy that she’s part of someone else’s Instagram story.
We see her rapping on her social media account—icons at the top of the screen to provide some familiarity. While she’s working her front desk job at a hotel, a guest pops up and compares her to the video on his phone, confirming it’s her. I liked where this was going.
From there, we see her call her friend, who apparently won’t return her texts. Jill is successful and works for Spotify and Shawna’s just dying to get in on the action.
Pro: The Social Commentary
One thing this show did well was social commentary on the state of the rap game for female rappers. Are all female rappers just expected to wear next to nothing and shake their asses? Is that all there is to the female rapper? Are they all supposed to be like Nikki, Cardi, and Kim?
I liked how Shawna says her music is “not for the male gaze.” It speaks to an intelligent aspiring female rapper, reminiscent of the days of Lauryn Hill – a female rapper who had substance. Someone with a positive message and not just another shell of an artist trying to lead the youth down a path of destruction. Kudos, Issa.
Another piece of commentary about the female rap game I thought was particularly interesting was the mention of the white female rapper and the work she had done to transform herself into what she’s become. Was that supposed to be Iggy?
The woman they’re referring to used to do acoustic covers of rap songs. Shawna says, “She used to be, like, Kirsten Dunst white.”
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I think we all know what she’s saying here. Cultural appropriation at its finest. The female rap game needs to be reinvented. Everyone’s doing the same thing over and over.
Con: Takes a While to Warm Up to Characters
The show starts off a bit slow when it comes to the storyline. The characters also don’t have the same charm as the characters in Insecure.
While the writing is good, it’s no Insecure. And I know that you shouldn’t try to compare the two because they’re totally different shows, but I can’t lie and say I wasn’t expecting it to be somewhat similar.
It took me longer to warm up to the characters and have sympathy for them and their backstories.
While I did sympathize with Mia and liked watching her on screen, the way she and Shawna got their relationship back on track was done a little clumsily and weird. But once they started rapping and came up with "Seduce and Scheme," the show really takes off from there.
Pro: The Soundtrack
One thing Issa got right yet again is the music. Let’s forget the fact that "Seduce and Scheme" could actually be a real song you hear on the radio. The other songs in the show were just as exciting to hear—and you can dance as you watch.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll be going to download the soundtrack, just like I did with the soundtrack for Insecure, which was just as good (if not better).
Con: Season Too Short
The season was so short at only eight episodes. And it ended with a bang. I think Issa Rae has done it again—created a hit show with a memorable cast of characters. I wanna be like her when I grow up.
Pro: Familiar Faces
Ahmal, Tasha, and Dro from Insecure all make appearances in the first episode. Loved seeing that!
Pro & Con: Can’t Wait for Season 2!
Unbelievable news yesterday that HBO Max has renewed Rap Sh!t for a second season. Yes, Issa! The only downside is now I have to wait a year for Season 2 to drop. I guess that's a good problem to have.
What did you think of Rap Sh!t? Let me know in the poll below.
© 2022 Shanea Patterson