Rap group Shawna (Aida Osman) and Mia (KaMillion) are headed on tour in the sophomore installment of Issa Rae’s “Rap Sh!t,” but tensions mount as the duo struggles to get on the same page, with Rae noting “they don’t trust each other.”
“Trust is literally the biggest thing — trusting each other, but also trusting each other’s intentions for the group and for where they’re headed,” showrunner Syreeta Singleton told TheWrap. “Where you find them, even in Season 2, I don’t know that they’re completely aligned. They’re both still very much figuring out what they want for themselves and are both, at many moments, coming at it from a selfish place.”
After landing their first show together at the end of the Max comedy’s freshman season, Shawna immediately compromised their reputation — and Mia’s trust — with an unpredictable performance going back to her masked video days. While Shawna and Mia made amends before the end of the season, and agreed to move forward on a tour with Reina Reign, it’s clear their bond will take some time to heal.
“Shawna violated Mia’s trust and her confidence,” Rae told TheWrap. “Mia was already shaky about pursuing this journey, and then, just as she started to love it and love their dynamic, Shawna, in a selfish moment, decided to try to get her own moment — you can’t do that in a group.”
As new obstacles pop up at every stop on tour, Rae noted Shawna and Mia not only must rebuild their connection, but also decide what they’re looking for as a group in the industry, noting “they’re not on the same page about that yet.”
Shawna is also forced to play nice with Reina, despite vehemently disagreeing with how the white rapper appropriates Black rap culture. Though Shawna is not alone in her critique — as last season’s viral behind-the-scenes video of Reina was met with backlash and comments of Blackfishing — speaking out isn’t necessarily going to help the group rise in industry ranks.
“Shawna sees the most results when she violates her own boundaries, and that’s really challenging for her,” Singleton said. “There’s a tension, and that’s something that she wasn’t getting when we first met her, [when] she had like 13 likes on her like mask videos, but now people are paying attention to her, but for all the things she deems wrong.”
Due to her “love and respect” for R&B and hip-hop, Shawna can be “hypercritical” of other artists navigating the space, leading her to become pretentious, according to Rae.
“She has to have a couple lessons in humility, not in the way that she does during the show, but she just needs to go on a journey to understand her hostility, especially if she finds herself willing to become the very thing that she criticizes,” Rae said.
Coming out of the first season, Shawna and Mia are also torn between aspiring manager Chastity (Jonica Booth) — who hustled to give the rap group many of their firsts, including cleverly getting “Seduce & Scheme” to play at a Miami club — and Francois Boom (Jaboukie Young-White), who landed the group the tour with Reina despite previously screwing over Shawna.
“Between Chastity and Francois, you have two very strong-willed and powerful personalities, with two slightly different visions about who Shawna and Mia are and what they should be doing or where their focus should be,” Singleton said, adding that the group must weigh out whose vision they trust more.
The debate between the two managers permeated the “Rap Sh!t” writers’ room, as Singleton, who was tapped to serve as showrunner on the comedy after writing for Rae’s “Insecure,” noted “we’re torn in the room.”
Rae noted she would chose Francois Boom “easily, hands down” to manage her career, but Singleton said some of the other writers “didn’t trust him at all.”
As the rap group rises in prominence, Mia weighs out her on-again, off-again relationship with Lamont, the father of her daughter, as she is introduced to a slew of men in the industry, including Cash (RJ Cyler), whose relentless pursuit of Mia catches her attention.
“Mia has an idea of what she should want and what she should go after,” Singleton said. “Mia definitely has a persona, that she feels like she needs to step into as she’s elevating — she’s one of the rap girls and you should be with the shiny thing.”
After being a young mom and not being able to explore the dating scene in the way other young women could, Singleton noted Mia is bound to bump her head and “make questionable choices.” “Mia is very much still on that journey of figuring out what she wants,” Singleton said.
“Rap Sh!t” is now streaming on Max, with new episodes dropping on Thursdays.
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