Shawna and Mia’s discography is growing quickly as they add “Nann Badder” to their repertoire. After being featured on a Spotify playlist, the group is gaining traction and plans to build on this momentum with an upcoming show at James Harden’s party. Hijacking a dance studio for a slot of time to rehearse, Mia and Shawna prepare choreography for their first official performance. The second half of the season is proving to have stronger and more complex storylines, revealing more about our character’s backgrounds and motivations. Shawna in particular has a fascinating arc as she struggles to define herself. Episodes like these make Rap Sh!t more compelling, adding great substance while still keeping the show light and fun.
As the group gets closer and closer to stardom, Shawna’s personality steadily transforms, taking on a bad-bitch persona. The transformation reaches a pinnacle in this episode: Her hair is straightened, her outfits are sexier, and her attitude straddles the line between confident and arrogant. The steps to get to this place have been gradual, but we’ve seen Shawna use her new identity as a type of armor; whether it was her newfound inhibitions with Cliff, her vocabulary with her girlfriends (even though she said period instead of periodt), or her social-media presence shifting with her new attitude, Shawna’s personality is drastically different from when we were first introduced to her. Now, sitting on Maurice’s bed, she posts herself holding a stack of bills to her ear with pin-straight hair and a cheetah-print dress with the caption “After a long day of seducing and scheming.” The caption is accurate — she hit two birds with one stone by scheming with Maurice while also seducing him, though she promises this will be the last time they have sex. Yeah, I’ve heard that one before.
While at Maurice’s, Shawna receives a DM from François Boom, the producer she was signed to when she dropped out of college. She acts annoyed, but it’s obvious she wants to flex her newfound success, something Maurice encourages. She agrees to grab drinks with François while he’s still in town, ready to flaunt her glow-up. Following the rehearsal, she borrows a Dior shirt from Mia and takes her time meeting him, telling Mia she wants him to wait for her looking “dumb as fuck.” It turns out she’s the one who looks dumb as fuck, since she beats François and waits alone for him until he arrives. He recognizes her transformation, noting the Dior shirt and new, more mature drink choices. They reminisce on their early days in music, remembering their corny phases when they were experimenting with their style. When François starts asking Shawna questions about the business side of her rap venture, she realizes just how much Chastity does not know what she’s doing. François echoes this sentiment, advising her to distance herself from Chastity and offers his services. Since he recently produced a music video for Reina Reign (the knockoff Iggy Azalea), he figures it only makes sense to produce a video for Shawna and Mia.
This proposal strikes a nerve with Shawna, whose deep resentment toward François weighs on her like an albatross. The suggestion of working with François again causes Shawna to address their estranged relationship, telling him that when they worked together, she felt unsupported and as if he wanted her to change her style. She keeps going, making fun of Reina Reign’s elementary verses and appropriation of Black aesthetics. He points out the irony of the situation: Now that she has switched up her style, as he suggested, she’s gaining popularity in the rap industry. He brings up “Seduce and Scheme,” smugly suggesting that Reina would sound great on the track. This is the last straw for Shawna, who calls François a sellout and then leaves. As she leaves, she texts Maurice looking to vent, but after briefly typing, his gray bubble cloud disappears, leaving her without a response.
Mia’s love life is also experiencing a change in direction as she and Lamont grow closer now that they’re spending more time together with Melissa. He’s stepping up in terms of co-parenting; he’s more present and even attempts to style Melissa’s hair (though he’s unable to perfect the art of swooped edges). Things get so cozy that Lamont posts a family picture with Mia in it on his Instagram, then asks her out on a date. She’s hesitant, saying she’ll respond after her rehearsal. As she’s giving Shawna clothes for her meeting with François, she tells Shawna about the date. Shawna disapproves and suggests that Lamont is only interested in Mia now that the music is blowing up. She also questions if a romantic relationship with Lamont would be detrimental to their career since he produces their music, warning against a Summer Walker/London on Da Track situation.
They manage to put aside the issues in their personal lives and head to the mansion to prepare for the performance. Chastity’s tendency for uninhibited social climbing leaves a bad taste in the booking agent’s mouth when she bombards Timbaland with requests for photographs and her incessant talking. Shawna and Mia also mingle before their performance, bumping into RJ Daniels, a prominent manager of other rap artists. While talking to him, Shawna refers to herself as “the pen behind the bars,” completely disregarding Mia’s pursuits in songwriting. Instead, she says Mia is simply in charge of branding and aesthetics. Mia is visibly irritated by the comment, but doesn’t say anything in the moment. The night continues going downhill when someone spills a drink on Mia, but the duo tries to salvage the night as they take their place on the stage. They kill the performance, impressing the audience with “Nann Badder” — and causing me to take a dance break myself.
But the moment goes to Shawna’s head, and instead of transitioning into “Seduce and Scheme,” she hijacks the stage and decides to improvise a verse on the spot in her old conscious style. It badly flops. This rogue performance is another example of Shawna’s transformation and increasing self-centeredness. Knowing this is the moment of a lifetime, and hyper aware of RJ Daniels’s presence, Shawna thinks only of herself, seizing the opportunity to prove she has “substance.” The demise of her relationship with Cliff combined with the harsh truth presented to her by Francois creates a level of dissonance between her old beliefs and new personality. She rambles on about her superiority over other female rappers with lines like, “Gave y’all hoes the blueprint this the fucking thanks I get.” She raps with extensive hubris — a dangerous choice for a new artists who hasn’t yet made real waves in the industry. The audience is uncomfortably silent, Mia is seething on the side of the stage, and the DJ cuts their set.
In addition to Chastity’s social misstep with Timbaland, her constant scheming catches up to her quickly as she tries to mix both of her businesses on the same night. To secure Shawna and Mia’s performance, Chastity promised the booking agent a free night with her hoes, unbeknownst to the women performing the service. When a client calls Chastity’s OG “uptight for someone giving out free pussy,” she confronts Chastity while Shawna airs her frustrations about the performance. It’s at this moment Shawna realizes Chastity is not only working the party as their manager but also as a pimp. Shawna is enraged by the lack of professionalism and storms off, leaving Chastity to tell her employees that they won’t be compensated for their time. Shawna returns to the room to find Mia packing up her things, upset that Shawna would deviate from what they rehearsed. Shawna is delusional and won’t take accountability. She insists her outburst was a “moment” because people were recording.
Mia returns home and finds comfort in Lamont, initiating sex with him when he starts to leave after watching Melissa. The two have quite the reunion, ending with them cuddling in Mia’s bed. During their pillow talk, Mia asks Lamont if he’s interested in her again because of her music. He admits that the music is a part of it, but not the only reason, and he really wants to see where things go. His answer is sufficient for Mia — at least for now. It’s hard to read Lamont; he seems genuinely interested in a future with Mia, and it’s understandable why her new creative energy is attractive to him, as he’s an artist himself. But, if life and television has taught me anything: men tend to neglect honesty when sex is involved. As Mia rekindles the flame with Lamont, Shawna faces the aftermath of her renegade performance. The moment ends up going viral, but not at all in the way Shawna egotistically assumed. The internet drags Shawna with comments asking, “what the fuck is she on and where can I get some” or telling Mia to beat her ass. Shawna’s reckless decision officially turns the tables, with her now being the center of social media controversy.
Bad Bitch Banter
• Shawna is becoming increasingly self-centered. As she and Mia mingle before their performance, they bump into RJ Daniels, a prominent manager of other rap artists. While talking to him, Shawna refers to herself as “the pen behind the bars,” completely disregarding Mia’s pursuits in songwriting. Instead, she says Mia is simply in charge of branding and aesthetics.
• The sex workers that Chastity manages adds great comedic timing to the show. I would watch an entire episode dedicated to their comings and goings.
• Shawna and Maurice’s budding romance is hitting a speed bump. Although we find out in the beginning that Shawna claimed to want to stop hooking up, she’s starting to develop a dependency on him. She invites him to the show and texts him numerous times without a response. He doesn’t end up coming to the show or answering any of her texts after either. I’m an overthinker (what writer isn’t), so my mind immediately assumed he was ghosting her. But there’s always the possibility that he’s tied up in something — or worse, got in trouble for scamming.