In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Issa Rae spoke on her process for curating the music for the final season of Insecure. During the interview, Rae also shared her thoughts about the music industry, calling it the “worst industry I’ve come across.”
When asked if the music business is a place where good ideas flourish, Rae responded: “It’s probably the worst industry that I have ever come across.” She added that “I thought Hollywood was crazy. The music industry, it needs to start over. Conflicts of interest abound. Archaic mentalities. Crooks and criminals! It’s an abusive industry, and I really feel for artists that have to come up in it.”
Rae said that her feelings towards the industry came about from her experience from setting up soundtracks and hearing what artists deal with day to day. Issa also has issues with how artists are treated by their labels.
“I do not want to be too specific, but even with making our own appointments [for soundtracks] with labels or artists, it would be so intricate. And to find out how artists were treated on other labels… Being a creator myself and knowing what I want in terms of a relationship with a production company or a producer, I’d like to think that we’re more artist-friendly than a lot of other labels and companies out there,” the writer and director said. “I want to revamp things.”
Issa also had a problem with the way music is rewarded. She says that the music industry fails to properly reward music made by Black people despite its commercial success and impact on the culture. She uses Wizkid’s “Essence” as an example of a song that was extremely popular this year but snubbed for a Record of the Year nod.
“Y’all don’t get it. What are you rewarding? This is dumb, but I’ll say it anyway: A song like [Wizkid’s] ‘Essence’ — just absolutely a powerhouse, and yet could not be properly acknowledged by the institution that is supposed to celebrate the best in music — that trips me out. To see Black people and our contributions to music not celebrated in the way they should be — I mean, these aren’t institutions for us.”
Despite her critiques on the industry, Issa wants to change things from the inside. In 2019 she founded Raedio, an imprint music label under Atlantic Records. The goal of the label is to develop up-and-coming artists and break their records.