Issa Rae And Syreeta Singleton On Making ‘Rap Sh!t’ Authentic

Issa Rae’s new series may be called Rap Sh!t, but the HBO Max comedy is as much about every day life in Miami for Black people across the diaspora as it is breaking into the music industry.

Starring Aida Osman and rapper KaMillion as lead characters Shawna and Mia, two early twenty something young women pursuing their dreams, Rap Sh!t widens the lens on young Black womanhood, friendship, and how one’s environment — in this case Miami — shapes their drive and view of the larger world.

“First it starts with the characters, right?” says showrunner Syreeta Singleton of making sure Black life in Miami was accurately represented. “We wanted to make sure that these women felt unique and real in their stories and their separate worlds. They’re from the same city but they’re having very different experiences.”

While writers and consultants helped shape some of the key elements in the project, from shooting locations to the music that serves as the bomb soundtrack to Rap Sh!t, Singleton and Rae drew on the experiences of real-life rappers Yung Miami and JT for the show. “We were super inspired by the City Girls and them being a duo whose music we really love and putting Shawna and Mia in this environment just felt right,” she adds.

Speaking further to the work that went in behind the scenes, Rae who is also Executive Producer of the series, says, “We were really intentional about making sure the writers room was reflective of the people who come from there. We had a consultant filmmaker who had his nose in the culture and would be like shoot here, don’t shoot here. He is also Haitian and we have Haitian culture heavily represented in this show.”

Ultimately, Rae adds, “The goal was to make sure that people who are from Miami watched it and recognized themselves in their city the same way we are hyper critical of any show that’s set in LA and I hope that we did the city justice.”

Rap Sh!t premieres on HBO Max July 21. Watch our full interview with Issa Rae And Syreeta Singleton in the video above.


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