The new series grew out of a VH1 television movie of the same name that premiered in January 2016. Like the movie, the show follows young New York City residents trying to survive in the high-stakes early ’90s hip-hop economy. Dan Charnas‘ 2011 book about the rap business’ evolution from low-paying DIY gigs to multi-million-dollar contracts and endorsements, "The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop," inspired both the series and film.
Afton Williams ("The Night Of"), Tristan "Mack" Wilds ("Shots Fired") and David Call ("James White") reprise their movie roles as three friends hustling in the business’ management, music production and journalism worlds, respectively. Wood Harris ("The New Edition Story"), Method Man ("Rebel") and other performers also return as their original characters.
The first episode follows Williams’ character, Nikki, as she starts working for egocentric and temperamental music executive Barry Fouray, portrayed by Harris. It also shows Ahm, played by Antoine Harris ("Power"), trying to get his mixtape back from Wilds’ DeeVee, who is sidetracked by a police interrogation.