‘Rap Sh!t’: A Female Rap Duo Finding Out Sh!t Out – Rolling Stone | WHs Answers

The unlikely second life of friends As the favorite streaming show of Generation Z, many wondered why a sitcom that debuted before most Americans had heard of email would prove so resonant with a young, tech-savvy audience. Or maybe the low-fi nature of Monica, Chandler and co.’s interactions answered those questions, as some of these new viewers admitted to being jealous that the Central Perk group hung out together without anyone’s face buried in a device was.

The ubiquity of smartphones has long been hell for scripted TV and film writers. Characters with phones in their pockets are immune to so many classic, useful storytelling tropes, which is one of the reasons so many thrillers make someone forget to take a charger or end up in a remote area with poor cell coverage. But on an even broader level, filmed entertainment has struggled to find interesting ways to dramatize the lives of people whose lives are inseparable from their phones. Some current shows like heart stopper and Mrs Miracle have found clever ways to visualize texting and social media usage, but many others try to minimize these things (people on TV leave far more voicemail messages than people in real life) because they can’t think of interesting ways to present characters scrolling and click all day.

The new HBO Max comedy Rap Sh!t doesn’t run away from the screen addiction of its characters, instead making it a core part of both its substance and style. It doesn’t always work, but it’s interesting Unsure Follow-up for creator Issa Rae and showrunner Syreeta Singleton.

Rap Sh!t follows two former high school classmates who grew apart and are now reuniting in their 20s. Shawna (Aida Osman) went to college but didn’t graduate, dreams of becoming a socially conscious rap star but doesn’t have the polish or self-promotional talent to make it happen, instead working behind the desk of a fancy hotel . Mia (KaMillion) is a single mom estranged from her daughter’s music engineer father, Lamont (RJ Cyler), with a thriving Instagram following and an OnlyFans she uses to pay her bills.

We’re introduced to them, the show’s other characters, and their Miami setting through a kaleidoscope of Instagram stories, TikToks, live videos, and more. It’s a more modern (and slightly more organic) twist on the old cinematic trick of meeting characters through colorful montages of their past exploits. But it also becomes part of the text of Rap Sh!t herself. Mia’s social media following becomes a central plot point as Shawna and Mia reunite and find they work surprisingly well as a rap duo. And among the central tensions in Shawna’s long-distance relationship with aspiring law student Cliff (Devon Terrell) is his uneasiness about her compulsion to document every aspect of her life — the seemingly glamorous ones anyway — at the Gram, rather than simply being in the moment. (And when that relationship gets into troubled waters, the fact that each of them can see exactly what the other is up to through their stories only makes things more tense.)

Most importantly, it just feels natural for a show about young people in 2022. Rap Sh!t treats social media as a blessing and a curse, but above all as a fact of contemporary life.

On a technical level, this approach can be patchy. There is rarely a noticeable difference in the style or quality of the images in the sequences presented from the POV of someone’s feed compared to the “real” moments that occur when a character stops filming themselves . The only difference is that you will see a red recording icon, a username and/or comments from followers. But the show seems averse to vertical video, so we often get the perfectly cropped top half of what’s being shot instead. It’s a tricky thing to pull off, though Rap Sh!t It just looks good sometimes, like an in-episode sequence where Shawna jumps into an online hater’s livestream to defend Mia from his endless negative reaction videos


There is also a subplot about Mia meeting one of her wealthier OnlyFans subscribers in person, and many of their IRL interactions are presented by her as videos. Even with his face mostly cropped each time, it doesn’t seem like this man (whose voice is clearly heard) would agree, even when she promised never to put them online .Though Shawna and Mia are former classmates as issa and molly continue Unsure , the dynamic is different. They weren’t close as teenagers and are still tentative acquaintances as the series begins. Mia believes – not without reason – that Shawna has always thought of herself as better, smarter and more stylish than Mia and her friends. And Shawna’s worker-than-you instinct means she often underestimates her new partner as a caricature rather than a smart and complicated individual in his own right. (In an early episode, Mia is incredulous when she realizes that Shawna is trying to rap about student loans, to which Shawna replies, “Technically, I rap how Student loans.”) Osman (a former writer at HBO’s


who also co-writes the sixth part of this series) and KaMillion have a simple and appealing chemistry together, and with most of the characters surrounding them, including Daniel Augustin as Shawna’s busy colleague and Jonica Booth as the pimp who wants to guide the duo’s fledgling music career.

The comedy is quite soft in the early episodes, although Osman and the writers do a good job of presenting Shawna as a woman with a pathological inability to avoid herself. (She’s also very funny in a sequence where the duo and some friends hit on Molly.) But it’s an appealing core relationship, and Rae, Singleton, and the rest of the creative team have a firm grip on Shawna and Mia’s world, and know how often that world is only visible to their heroines through one screen or another. The first two episodes of

Rap Sh!t premieres July 21 on HBO Max, with more episodes coming weekly. I’ve seen six of the eight episodes of the first season.

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