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Issa Rae’s Rap Sh!t is the show we thought Atlanta would be

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Back in 2015, the FX channel announced their newest comedy with a simple login:Atlanta revolves around two cousins ​​who make their way through the Atlanta rap scene.” This summary implied a different kind of show than the one Atlanta it turned out: a crazy sitcom about a strange couple and their misadventures in a week. The Donald Glover Show turned out to be more moody and less linear than its description or even the pilot suggested. However, seven years later, this alternate version finally aired. rap shit trades Atlanta for Miami and cousins ​​for separated high school friends. However, the series shares a common starting point with its predecessor and counterpart, even as it moves in its own direction.

Atlanta definitely not enough successors: shows how ramy as well as Dog booking repeat his wandering focus and bittersweet tone while Dave it’s another rap saga led by its star creator, although Glover himself doesn’t like the comparison. And not Atlanta the only show that rap shit bears more than a passing resemblance. HBO Max’s half-hour series created by Issa Rae is a highly anticipated sequel Unreliable, who recently wrapped up the five-season series that made Ray a household name. (rap shit showrunner Sirita Singleton served as story editor for Unreliablelast two seasons.) Echoes are evident well before the credits: for example, Not safe, rap shit follows a deep, complex friendship between two young black women, set against a backdrop that is diligently localized. His episodes are even named in a similar style, all using the same slang catchphrase — in this case, “Something for the City” or “Something for the Girls.”

rap shit may intersect with Unreliable, but its story is different and rooted in reality. The show fictionalizes the rapid rise of the Miami rap group City Girls, which is executive produced by JT and Yung Miami. (So ​​did Kevin “Coach K” Lee and Pierre “P” Thomas, co-founders of record label City Girls Quality Control.) City Girls’ popularity exploded in 2018, earning the attention of luminaries Drake, who featured the two of them on “In My Feelings,” to Ray who put the City Girls on Unreliable soundtrack before you start working with them. Their ascent was made all the more remarkable by Jung Miami’s inexperience — she had never rapped so much in a bar until the summer of 2017 — and JT’s jail time. As the City Girls were gaining momentum, half of the duo were sentenced to two years in prison for credit card fraud; at a slightly unfortunate time, JT was released in March 2020.

Such a rapid rise and a bumpy road is a clear Hollywood catnip. rap shit nevertheless makes some adjustments to this finished plan. Real city girls can be different: “Miami brings glamour, I bring attitude,” JT once said. slice— but for the most part they act as a united front. When will we meet rap shitShona (Aida Osman) and Mia (KaMillion), they’re not even close, let alone collaborators. Shauna is a college dropout and works at the front desk at the Plymouth Hotel in South Beach; she does not reunite with Mia until several years later when a single mother beats up Showna in a desperate attempt to take care of the children. This case portends rap shitinterest in the relationship between economic necessity and artistic inspiration. Rap is passion, but it’s also an up and down journey.

In a way, Shona and Mia really match up with their real-life counterparts. Mia has a lot to do, from makeup artists to OnlyFans, but rap isn’t one of them; she is a rookie, as is Yung Miami, who also had to combine hip-hop with raising a young child. Meanwhile, Shona helps her colleague Maurice (Daniel Augustin) rip off the guests, getting extra money on the side. Anyone familiar with JT’s legal troubles will feel a gnawing angst when she pockets some plastic for the first time.

But rap shit also emphasizes the contrast between the two to ignite conflict and reveal themes, which often requires some ingenuity. Shauna may be a rapper, but she limits herself to the socially conscious nappers, posting masked videos to superficially claim objectification. (While watching, one of the characters asks, “Is this something like Women’s History Month?”) She is encouraged or maybe helped by her boyfriend Cliff (Devon Terrell), whose tenure at law school in New York fills her personal and professional insecurity. While he arranges internships and flirts with classmates, she is still floundering.

Shauna follows Cliff via FaceTime and Instagram Stories. These scenes are just one example rap shitStylistic trademark: fluid, near-constant use of social media, weaving seamlessly across eight episodes. (Six were previewed to critics.) Pilot director Sade Klaken Joseph, who has directed music videos and commercials for Common and TI, sets the tone as he moves freely between Snapchats, Instagram Lives, phone shoots and camera sessions. The show does not fully unfold on the screens, for example Remove from friends or all those early pandemic Zoom specials. Instead, he puts the Internet on par with real life. No drastic shifts in aspect ratio to mimic smartphone dimensions; the post-production team simply adds a few bars at the top of the screen for the story, or a yellow button in the center for the snap.

rap shitThe use of online platforms in Russia is not just innovative. This is the key to the story he wants to tell about a world where influence and musical credibility are increasingly intertwined. Like Yung Miami and JT, Mia and Shauna appear in the universe after Cardi B where notoriety can come. before real work. Shona has the lyrical prowess, but it’s Mia who comes up with the online following as well as the understanding that everyone is a commodity, whether they like it or not. “What’s so bad about niggas looking at you?” she asks Showna, who prefers to rap about student loans. And for a show about digital natives, relying on social media is not only a statement, but also a practical measure. After their initial reunion, Shauna and Mia have a drunken heart-to-heart in Mia’s car, which they stream in full on Instagram Live. They start freestyle and find the catchphrase that becomes their first single: “Seduce and Scheme”.

Whether rap shitThe protagonists practice what they preach, another central issue. Mia chastises her followers about not messing with broke suitors, but when the cameras are off, she argues with her daughter’s father about childcare costs. Shauna talks a lot about female empowerment, but she still lacks Cliff’s approval. (Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t take kindly to her new public persona.) Both Osman and KaMillion sell their characters’ main paradox. They are equally capable of confidence and overwhelming self-doubt.

As rap shit comes from the pilot, contrast with Atlanta becomes especially instructive. In the latest show, Paper Boi’s career takes on a life of its own, her ascent seemingly indifferent to the rapper’s efforts or lack thereof. On the Rap Sh!t, receive large bribes Work— desperate, unworthy work, where one small step forward can mean falling on your ass. Entire episodes are dedicated to getting “Seduce and Scheme” into a club or playlist. (Spotify, which owns Ringer, almost a character in itself.) If Atlanta mainly interested in the consequences of fame, rap shit explores the tenacity and perseverance that may be causing it, although success is hardly guaranteed. Mia and Shauna start from the bottom. Wherever they end up, it’s nice to watch them try.

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