Issa Rae and Syreeta Singleton on bringing Rap Sh!t to life: ‘It’s such a fun show’

The creator and showrunner sat down with theGrio and broke down their new series set to hit HBO Max this week

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Issa Rae’s brand new series, “Rap Sh!t,” is days away from premiering on HBO Max, and theGrio spoke the creator and showrunner Syreeta Singleton to break down the show, filming in Miami and the opportunity to tell an authentic story about chasing your dreams.

HBO Max Original Comedy Series "RAP SH!T" Red Carpet Premiere - Arrivals
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JULY 13: (L-R) Suzanna Makkos, Aida Osman, Jonica Booth, KaMillion, Issa Rae, Syreeta Singleton and RJ Cyler attends the HBO Max original comedy series “RAP SH!T” premiere at Hammer Museum on July 13, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Momodu Mansaray/Getty Images)

“I’m just ready for it to be out there,” Rae exclaimed as she described her excitement about the series. “Rap Sh!t,” Rae’s first series following the end of her hit show “Insecure,” follows two high school friends who reunite in Miami years after graduation to form a rap group with its eyes set on superstardom. Rae has been busy promoting the series at various festivals over the past few months, which she said has been fun but, of course, is just the beginning of the journey for the show.

“It’s one thing to have these select screenings and to hear from people that the show resonates with them, but it’s a whole different beast for it to be out there in the world and for everyone to consume,” she explained. “We went through so much filming it and learned so much filming it … it is such a fun show and I hope people feel the same.”

Sharing similar sentiments, Singleton said, “We’ve been sitting and working on it for so long, that I’m just excited for the show that hopefully people really enjoy this summer.”

TheGrio screened “Rap Sh!t” last month at American Black Film Festival and without giving too much away, the series uses a distinctive social media-inspired storytelling device to bring audiences into Shawna and Mia’s world.

Rae told theGrio that they really wanted to tell the story uniquely. “As a creative, trying to tackle ways to tell a story and represent this moment now was top of mind, and social media is such a part of our lives. The way we interact with each other is through social media and also the way that we discover artists,” she said. “In telling this come-up story about female rappers trying to make it in this day and age you cannot do that without the help of social media.”

For Singleton, “Rap Sh!t” also offered an exciting opportunity for her to step into the role of showrunner after previously working with Issa on “Insecure,” which she described as a big “step up” and challenge for the creator.

“I felt comfortable because I had worked with Issa. Because I worked on Insecure, I had the chance to sit across from her and know what she likes, and know what type of stories she likes to tell. I think we share that in common,” she said, “I really felt like I could lean on her a lot during this process, especially as we’re experimenting and trying new things. I reflected a lot on the showrunners that I knew, especially Prentice [Penny, the “Insecure” showrunner].

“Rap Sh!t” follows two estranged high school friends — played by Aida Osman (left) and KaMillion (right) — who reunite in Miami and form a rap group together. (Photo by Alicia Vera/HBO Max)

Singleton continued, “There’s so much to putting together a team, to then executing a vision and seeing that vision through all of the different phases of production.”

Despite the various challenges shooting in Miami presented (extreme heat, hurricanes and more) she insists they all learned, grew and bonded together despite certain hurdles. “It was a really great experience that I think we all learned and grew from, and came out with a show that we’re really excited about.”

Rap Sh!t premieres on July 21 on HBO Max.

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