Issa Rae’s “Rap Sh!t” Has 3 Stars: Aida Osman, KaMillion, & Miami

Underneath the veneer of Miami, Florida’s pristine beaches, upscale nightlife, and year-long summer is a collective understanding amongst the city’s natives: you got to get it by any means. HBO and Issa Rae’s latest TV collaboration, Rap Sh!t, takes a fictionalized peek into the true essence of Miami.

Told against the backdrop of the city, Rap Sh!t follows Mia Knight and Shawna Clark, estranged high school friends who are both in need of a come up. The solution? Become a rap duo.

In episode 1, rightfully titled “Something for the City, we’re introduced to two characters stuck in an endless cycle. By day, Shawna works at an upscale Miami hotel secretly collecting credit card information. By night, she’s filming masked rap videos about social issues like climate change. Contrastingly, Mia is a makeup artist and single mother with a popular OnlyFans page. Despite their different lifestyles and personalities, they find that they share a real belief in making this rapping thing work.

The series was actually filmed in Miami, which although seems like a small detail, makes a huge difference in creating an authentic show. Florida rapper KaMillion, who plays Mia, was born and raised in Jacksonville. She credits Jacksonville in shaping her own sound as a rapper, and says the city also helped her understand and navigate her character on the show. She so closely understands what it means to fully represent down South culture in a natural and honest way.

“A lot of times when you start getting money and your life change, you can’t talk about the sh*t you used to talk about,” KaMillion tells Teen Vogue. “Jacksonville inspires me. It takes me back to that place. It always reminds me of the struggle. It reminds me of where I came from. My friends and family are here, so I always know when I come home I’m gonna get that raw Florida sound.”

Aida Osman, who plays Shawna, had a slightly different experience than KaMillion growing up in Nebraska, but still managed to garner some real life Miami culture at an opportune time.

“I’ma sound real ‘I have Black friends so I can say what I want’ right now, but I was actually dating someone who lives in Miami, so we moved down there together for about a year and a half [before I even knew about Rap Sh!t],” says Aida. “Not even realizing I was basically preparing myself for the little knowledge that I could give to [Shawna]. But that’s also another main reason why I was so drawn to Rap Sh!t. I was getting a pilot about rappers in Miami and I was [previously] living in Miami and rapping for fun.”

Landing the lead roles in an Issa Rae-created show centered around women in rap felt like fate for KaMillion. The 33-year-old rapper and actress, known for her hit single “Twerk 4 Me” and her appearance in Love and Hip-Hop: Miami, knew as soon as she read for Mia that this was “her” role. Yet, she still didn’t want to jinx the moment. KaMillion didn’t tell a single friend or family member about her audition process for almost a year. It wasn’t until she actually landed the role did she share the great news.

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