Women Run the Game on the Soundtrack to Season Two of Issa Rae’s ‘Rap Sh!t’

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Rap Shit Soundtrack Rap Shit Soundtrack.jpg - Credit: Prince Williams/Wireimage; Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images; Prince Williams/WireImage
Rap Shit Soundtrack Rap Shit Soundtrack.jpg - Credit: Prince Williams/Wireimage; Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images; Prince Williams/WireImage

Fans are stirring with excitement as RAP SH!T, Issa Rae’s television series on Max, gears up to return for its second season. On Nov. 9, viewers will continue to follow the fictional lives and musical journeys of Shawna Clark (Aida Osman) and Mia Knight (KaMillion). The show, based in Miami, is loosely inspired by the come-up story of South Florida’s very own hot group City Girls, who just dropped their latest project, RAW, in October and serve as co-executive producers for the series. As with Rae’s previous hit show Insecure, the use of music on the series has always been excellent, and RAP SH!T’s soundtrack RAP SH!T: The Mixtape (Soundtrack from the Max Original series, S2) is as fire as you’d expect.

The 19-track mixtape has a diverse lineup of established rap favorites, such as Kaliii and Sexyy Red, as well as upcoming acts, like Cleotrapa and NCognita, who have been popping up from their home cities’ underground scenes. The opening track, “On Site,” features Memphis duo Slimeroni and Aleza, known for their unique style and charisma. For the past few years, the two have been putting in work and embodying their hometown’s Grind City ethic. Scroll through YouTube and you can see them featured prominently as part of a quintet of local rappers that includes K Carbon, Gloss Up, and recent breakout star GloRilla. The beginning of “On Site” takes you by surprise with a theatrical trolling opening line (sung operatically) “If I see that bitch, Imma slap that bitch,” which leads into a melodic bop that’ll put a bounce in your legs and get your fingers pointing in the air.

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“City to City,” from twin-sister duo Cam & China, serves as a thesis statement of this soundtrack. The mixtape features sounds, styles, and accents from New York to Long Beach and all over the country. A literal callout of area codes, “City to City” is so catchy it feels like it could work as the go-to song of any show with a vibrant travel scene. Sexyy Red‘s “No Panties” was released as the first single from RAP SH!T in September, and in true Sexyy fashion, the song’s raw lyrics delve into the intricacies of self-worth, respect, and sex appeal, showing that there is room for all three at the same time and in the same person. Brooklyn’s very own Maiya the Don and North Texas’ Enchanting create a gem with “He Can’t Reach,” a song with lyrics are as impactful as the production. Having two voices from opposite sides of the country on the track is the perfect representation of the sense of unity to which the soundtrack aspires; it’s a message showcased in the series that also translates to real life. Enchanting’s voice glides over the beat smoothly and seamlessly as she delivers punch-packing lyrics like, “pussy on tsunami, while my new nigga behind me.” Maiya’s grit takes up space, her voice booming like an 808 bass through the speaker and giving the song its roots and foundation.

It’s apparent that Issa Rae and her team wanted sounds that are heavy-hitting and bop-worthy. Songs like “No Time,” featuring Lady London, Connie Diiamond, and Hood Brat (who was featured on RAP SH!T’s first soundtrack), are anthems filtered with poetic genius. For Lady London, an up-and-coming artist and social media sensation, the song shows the range in her style and limitless lyricism. “Want No Beef,” featuring Omeretta the Great and Enchanting, will have you ready to pull up on the opposition. With a swag that’s as smooth as it is commanding, Enchanting is featured at least three times on this project (her third song “Run It Up,” with Atlanta rapper Kaliii, is as strong as the other two). The project wraps with “We Live,” a beautiful pairing between Rico Nasty and Cleotrapa. In this moment, one can’t help but feel proud of Cleo, who first captured the heart of the culture by posting grammar lessons explaining concepts like ‘than versus then’ and now finds herself next to notable names on a mixtape for an acclaimed show.

Women have been a force in rap for so long that the debate over their ability to craft lyrics and hits in comparison to their male counterparts is starting to become nonsensical. Either you have the bars or you don’t, and RAP SH!T: The Mixtape, an album so heavily dominated by women (alongside a sprinkling of men like O.G. Kurb, who appears on “Going on a Drill”), proves that not only are these ladies here, but they are indeed the future.

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