Issa Rae Considers Going Independent Following The Cancellation Of Black Sitcoms
Issa Rae attends HOORAE x Kennedy Center Weekend Takeover at The Kennedy Center on March 25, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for HOORAE)

Exclusive: Issa Rae On Treating Next Season Of Rap Sh!t Like Its “Last,” How Quinta Brunson’s Cousin Feels “Seen” In The Series, And How Maliibu Mitch Solidified Rap Sh*t Status

Rap Sh*t is getting back into the swing of things and filming its second season. After a massive sweep of HBO Max originals long gone, including Issa Rae’s original unscripted series Sweet Life, it’s safe to say one of her shows will continue to see the light of the day for the time being. 

The sexy, coming-of-age series is loosely inspired by the City Girls and follows two high school friends putting their creative juices together to become the next IT rap duo. Baller Alert spoke to the cast during a set visit while they were filming for the second season, 

Twitter discourse can be a lot, especially for artists who push out their creativity, shows included. Do you ever listen to some of the Twitter discourse regarding Rap Sh*t and any conversation or comment you saw about the show that stuck with you?

Rap Sh!t Director Amy Aniobi: Regarding the Twitter discourse, I was advised to read all or none because you can’t only read positive or negative stuff, so opt for none (laughs). I don’t read the discourse – I like to engage with fans like live tweeting as I did with Insecure. Still, when people share what the characters should be doing, I love that they love it. Still, I never want that to influence the choices I make creatively, especially with these writers who sat with these characters for so long, and I’m coming in as a director to access their vision; I’m happy they engage, but sometimes I tend to mute.”

The Hollywood universe of Black stories is expanding with different stories being told from Rap Sh*t, Swarm, P-Valley, Abbott Elementary, and many others. While these shows are stable at this time, what is another way you would like to see Hollywood invest in these shows for it to expand/be amplified to a grander scale? 

Aniobi: We’re experiencing a bit of an economic downturn as an industry and nation, so I suggest Hollywood throw money behind the shows they believe in and the different shows. One of the things that are so cool about Rap Sh!t and Swarm is that they are original – I literally haven’t seen that sh*t, and I can’t look away because I haven’t seen it. I’m very excited to see I’m A Virgo from Boots Riley – the originality of our minds of Black creativity is undefeated, and seeing networks support those shows is super exciting. I want a show about Black men and what they go through – I really would like to see our consciousness of who we are as people and mental health, but I’m so excited about the shows happening now. 

There was BIG talk about ‘The Woman King,’ and it’s snub from the Oscars after being such a critically acclaimed film. Now you’ve been nominated for awards in the past for Insecure, where folks felt you should’ve taken the gold home. Did that ever affect you in any way, and for Rap Sh*t, is that type of recognition something you care about? 

Issa Rae: It’s always nice to be acknowledged – like I love how Kamillion, Syreeta, and the series were acknowledged during this season – for me, I want to be 1000% sure we put out the best show and then I’ll ride, cape, and be like “ya’ll didn’t nominate me?” (laughs). We’re getting to that point if I’m being candid. 

Showrunner Syreeta Singleton: I feel like we’re getting to that point, too – it’s great to be acknowledged because of all it comes with and creating more, but for me, do the people who watch this show feel seen and heard? If they do, then I feel like we did it. 

Issa: Quinta and I were having lunch or dinner, and she said, “Girl, Rap Sh!t – I love that sh*t” and how she watches the show with her 24-year-old cousin, who identifies with the show. I was like – first of all, I didn’t know, so shout out to her cousin (laughs). Quinta told me how her cousin identifies with Mia, and she hits me up about the show all time which, to me, that’s dope. She told me how her cousin felt nobody else on television represented her like this show is, and I thanked her. To Syreeta’s point, that’s special, too, because we’re showcasing a story that is sometimes painted in specific light or dismissed, but we’re making certain characters front and center that aren’t necessarily that so that’s special. 

Shawna is such a fun, complex character to watch onscreen — how will she evolve in season two?

Aida Osman (Shawna): She’s on a journey where she needs to figure a few things out and who she is and if she has integrity because she keeps proving to us that she has none and is selfish. You can be talented but that doesn’t mean you can act a fool and manipulate people around you – she hasn’t learned that yet so she’s going to keep manipulating, scamming, scheming, and seducing but she’s growing up. 

‘Seduce and Scheme’ went platinum in everyone’s house — will we get a two-peat for another record like that for this upcoming season?

Jonica Booth (Chastity): You got to watch and see (laughs). It’s Rap Sh!t.

It’s season two, and if we’re speaking in album tenses, sophomore albums make or break an artist — what are all the stops you’re pulling out to have a successful season two? 

Issa Rae: That was a real a** question (laughs). We’re treating this season like we may not come back. We want to tell the best story possible and pull out all the stops – showcase what its like to be a female rapper in this industry when you’re coming up. You’ll see some recognizable moments and some that will surprise you. 

Singleton: In season two, we’re playing no games – we’ve been so particular about who’s behind the camera and what it looks like. We’ve been intentional from a storytelling perspective, ensuring it feels as relevant, real, and funny as possible. The girls look incredible; the wardrobe goes crazy, and the music. 

What’s the craziest rap sh*t you’ve ever heard in the history of rap? 

Issa: The craziest shit I would say, or maybe not the craziest, but it piqued my interest, is when we shot with Maliibu Mitch, and she had beef with Cardi B – she wore the Rap Sh*t hoodie when she was on video looking for her (laughs). I told Syreeta we made it.

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