Issa Rae on How Real-Life Rappers Like Cardi B and Nicki Minaj Inspired ‘Rap Sh!t’ (Exclusive)

Issa Rae is ready for fans to check out her new comedy series, Rap Sh!t, a love letter to the women making their mark in the male-dominated rap world. 

The HBOMax Original series follows two estranged high school friends from Miami, Shawna (Aida Osman) and Mia (KaMillion), who reunite to form a rap group. The concept was developed from Rae’s original Insecure script and aims to highlight the challenges women face trying to break into the male-dominated hip-hop industry.

Insecure’s Syreeta Singleton serves as showrunner and executive producer with Rae and Singleton executive producing alongside Hoorae’s Montrel McKay of A Black Lady Sketch Show, Jonathan Berry of Insecure and 3 Arts’ Dave Becky of Russian Doll

Hip-hop duo Yung Miami and JT of the City Girls also serve as co-executive producers, which is fitting since Rae shared that their real-life journey is part of the inspiration behind the series.

“Besides being a fan of the female rap world, I wanted to center a show just around that come up,” Rae explained to ET. She noted how her own “come up” was through social media and how different that process is for musicians compared to more traditional means of discovery.

“It just feels like a different time for artists to get discovered and to present themselves authentically,” she added. “And it really just is a show about identity, which is something that I struggled with presenting initially.”

Obviously, a show about female rappers needs that magic touch from the real-life inspirations — of whom Rae shared there are many. “This show is inspired by all the female rappers that are out right now, from Cardi B to Megan [Thee Stallion] to the City Girls, No Name, Nicki Minaj and Tierra Whack,” she said. “We took different pieces of their lives and put them through Shawna and Mia’s story.”

As for the City Girls, Rae called them the “biggest female rap duo since like Salt-N-Pepa.”

“I mean, they’re phenomenal, we really wanted to get their blessing,” she added. “Their journey very much so mirrors Shawna and Mia’s.”

Fans can learn if Shawna and Mia make it as big as JT and Miami when Rap Sh!t premieres on Thursday, July 21 with its first two episodes. The eight-episode season will then air one episode each week, concluding Sept. 1.

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