Rap S—, Issa Rae’s new project, stems from her original Insecure script about the challenges of women breaking into the hip-hop industry. The series follows two previously estranged best friends getting together to form a rap group. The show is based in Miami, Florida so it’s no coincidence that the rap duo City Girls are credited as executive producers on the project. In Rae’s conversation with Harper’s BAZAAR, the television executive explains how women are breaking up the “boys club” in hip-hop today.
“I think this is just such a unique time in hip-hop, especially when it comes to female rappers, because there’s such an abundance, and it doesn’t feel like they’re all in competition with each other. I’m a child of the ’90s, and there used to always be a tendency to put two women against one another,” explained Rae in a conversation with Harper’s BAZAAR. “It feels like we’re in an era where there’s such a supportive environment now because of that abundance. All of that, combined with just my own story of coming up, became the next story that I wanted to tell.”
Social media is embodied into the show’s premise as Rae took a look at the lives of how it jumpstarted the careers of large figures in present-day hip-hop.
“When I think about Cardi B, I discovered her because of friends sending me her social media videos before she was a rapper, before Love & Hip Hop. And then, being able to watch her journey and watch people fall in love with her and root for her, and then root for her downfall like that—that is so interesting to me,” Rae explained. “Megan Thee Stallion too […] To be famous during this time relies so much on what you’re putting out. The question of how authentic we really are, knowing that people are watching, really fascinates me. I don’t think that this era of female rap exists without social media.”
Rae, who was known for her raps on Insecure when she played Issa Dee, says she looks at her shows as forms of musical projects as well.
With Rap S—, “this is kind of like my sophomore album—I consider Awkward Black Girl as my mixtape and Insecure my first album. So with this one, there is pressure, but I’m really excited about it. I hope that people have an open mind—it’s such a fun show,” Rae later expressed.
Rap S— is slated to debut later this summer on HBO Max, but will premiere exclusively at the American Black Film Festival 2022 on June 18.