Something for the Road
Reina Reign’s shallow, culturally wanting appropriation is exposed inadvertently in a marketing mishap during episode 8 of Rap Sh!t. During the shooting of one of her music videos, a member of the team records her for a BTS video (behind the scenes). She is asked to improvise on the spit and comes woefully short. The response on social media is really negative, putting her upcoming tour with Francois in a pickle. Shawna posts a response video to the negative comments she got from people on Instagram but without actually addressing what had happened. She just wants to move on as quickly as possible from the mishap. Mia isn’t responding to her text or calls. She spent the night with Lamont, as happened in episode 7. When Melissa gets up and calls for her, they both panic and Lamont has to go out the window.
Shawna goes to work at the Plymouth and is surprised to see Benny covering the shift instead of Maurice. He has been AWOL ever since episode 6 and Shawna is getting more anxious by the minute. Nikesia, from whom Shawna takes over the shift at the reception, politely makes a comment when Shawna asks about Maurice. She warns Shawna that Maurice is only going to look out for himself and that she mustn’t get too attached. Chastity has breakfast with her uncle and he gives her “sage” advice to keep her girls in line. He says she must show authority and not allow herself to be portrayed as weak. Mia invites the girls Aleesia and Nelly over. They plan to go out for the night and let Mia steam off.
Chastity tries her best to act on the advice and not only reminds Deja that she is the one in charge but also tries to mend the ties between Shawna and Mia, calling them the next day for a meet-up. As Shawna is boarding a bus home, she gets a video call from Maurice, who tells her he was missing because he was in jail. This sends Shawna into shock. She even drops her phone and has to call him again. He comforts her by saying she is in the clear and should chill. Mia’s spirits are lifted when the DJ at the club she goes to recognizes her and plays her song. She is flattered even more as Ca$h Cha$er, a famous rapper, sends bottles to her tables and invites them over. Mia plays hard to get and ignores him but keeps the bottles.
Shawna is perturbed, to say the least with what happened. She goes home and deletes all the photos of cards on her laptop, even tearing away pages she had written as ideas for songs from her notebook. She gets a message from Cliff, saying he misses her to the text she sent earlier saying “hey”. She seems caught in two minds right now: whether to look for a safety net in Cliff or keep trying to make it to the top. Ca$h asks Mia to follow them over to a diner but instead, she takes them to a simple outlet in her neighborhood. Shawna has contacted Francois to ask him to take over and help her monetize her songs and show her the way ahead. The “date” between Mia and Ca$h goes really well, with the latter being straightforward and saying he wants to “get with her”. They also share intimate, vulnerable details about their personal lives. When he asks her out again for the next day, she says she has to work and pay the bills.
Ca$h literally hands over bundles of cash to her, saying she come with him instead. The girls push her not to lose out on the opportunity and ditch Lamont. Chastity, Mia, and Shawna meet, where Chastity speaks her mind. Her perspective is that unless the duo stops fighting, she cannot work with them. They cannot get things done. And, she also reminds them that Chastity was the one who got them into the places they performed at. Her connections made it all possible and they shouldn’t forget it. Shawna is half snickering and even mentions it to Mia after Chastity leaves. But Mia makes it clear that she agreed with Chastity. Mia also says she does not want to work with Shawna, who replies that they mustn’t let their personal differences split the group apart, which is gaining a wider audience.
She mentions a paid tour around the country with a prominent artist and Mia is receptive. But, she says she will not leave out Chastity and Shawna agrees. Mia shoots down Lamont’s attempts to further spend the night and it is revealed that the artist is Reina Reign, who needs some validation from the black community after her social media mishap. The duo will open for her on the tour. When Shawna gets to fetch glasses at the party after announcing their union on social media, she is told by Nikesia that police are looking for her at the hotel, hinting that she might be arrested and Nikesia’s prophecy about Maurice came true.
The Episode Review
‘Rap Sh!t’s finale ends on a menacing note. Shawna’s worst wish came true in a moment of betrayal from someone she thought she could trust. It truly was heartbreaking, seeing her work so hard to lead up to that and then for all of it to go to waste. Mia and Shawna stand on two contrasting pedestals. Their arches have diverged quite drastically through season 1. The former got her act right and never lost her sense of belonging in the world. She didn’t let it change who she really was, whereas Shawna just kept going with the flow. Episode 8 kind of had it coming for the Plymouth receptionist. Her scheming partner had already deserted her in the last episode and broke the news in the finale.
Now that the police seem to have discovered their alliance, it is dark clouds for Shawna. We did see her get a warning from a fellow employee who had already got her hand burnt but it was way too late. All indicators point toward another season for ‘Rap Shit!’, something that will probably be uglier in its reality for the characters. It is definitely a mixed bag for the viewers who had more tonal expectations from Issa Rae’s bold storytelling. It felt like all of it fell apart in the finale; the good work that she had managed to do. This ending does not feel like one. There is something that just does not fit in with what we saw and anticipated.