Music business

Issa Rae calls the music business ‘the worst industry I’ve ever encountered’

Issa Rae, whose five seasons with HBO’s “Insecure” ended with a finale this weekend, has dipped more than one toe in the music industry. She launched her own label, Raedio, and is producing a new show about budding rappers, using her existing career to help launch music. But rather than appearing to be thrilled to branch out into another industry, Rae gives the impression that she’s entered a den of vipers.

When asked if the music industry is “a place where good ideas flourish,” Rae replied, “Absolutely not. It’s probably the worst industry I’ve ever encountered,” she said. told the Los Angeles Times Mikael Wood in a Q&A about his personal and professional experiences with music.

“I thought Hollywood was crazy,” Rae continued. “The music industry, it has to start all over again. There are a lot of conflicts of interest. Archaic mentalities. Bad guys and criminals! It’s an addictive industry, and I really feel for the artists who need help. ‘to go in. … It was a shocking thing’ to find out, she said.

Rae did not go into her dismay with the music industry beyond generalities, but indicated that her feelings were based on a combination of her own experiences creating soundtracks and listening to artists on what they deal with regularly. “I don’t want to be too specific, but even making our own appointments [for soundtracks] with labels or artists, it would be so complex. And to know how artists were treated on other labels… When I’m a creator myself and I know what I want from a relationship with a production company or a producer, I would like to think that ‘we’re more artist-friendly than a lot of other brands and companies out there. I want to renew things.

Rae also hit out at the Grammys in the interview and picked out one record in particular that she thought was unfairly snubbed. “What really bothers me – and it fits with Hollywood – is how music is rewarded. When I think of the Grammys and these other systems designed to reward artistic creativity and elevate artists, I just ‘feel you don’t understand. What are you rewarding?’ It’s stupid, but I’ll say it anyway: a song like [Wizkid’s] “Essence” – simply a powerhouse, and yet couldn’t be properly recognized by the institution that’s supposed to celebrate the best in music – which trips me up. Seeing black people and our contributions to music not being celebrated the way they should be — I mean, they’re not institutions for us.

Wizkid’s “Essence” was nominated for a Grammy for World’s Best Musical Performance, but not for Record of the Year. Asked about the omission in a recent interview with Billboard, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said, “It’s a great record. He is a very talented artist. I can’t explain why it didn’t succeed, but I really like this record.

Rae had plenty of good words for the individual artists in the interview, naturally highlighting the 2021 hits of Jazmine Sullivan, who recorded a title track for “Insecure” in Season 2 with Bryson Tiller, saying, “ She is literally pure talent. Rae also cited Don Toliver and Cleo Sol as personal musical favorites this year.

Looking back on the show, Rae said, “We highlighted female singers and female rappers in a distinct way while others weren’t – I’m thinking TT the Artist and Kari Faux in Season 1 … That was one of the mandates – LA artists, independent artists. Kier (Lehman, the show’s music supervisor) pitched me so many new artists that I felt like I got the sound of the show. And then, of course, I dig myself for the people I love. As a music lover, nothing excites me more than first feeling drawn to an artist.

In a separate space interview With the newspaper, Rae opened up about the HBO Max series she just wrapped filming, “Rap Sh*t.” The new series, in which she does not appear on camera, has the two members of hip-hop duo City Girls as executive producers.

“It’s set in the world of indie music and it’s a whole different world, a very different story of friendship, but trying to make it an industry that doesn’t see it for you,” Rae told the Times. “So in some ways there are parallels to my own journey, but the world of music is so different, twisted and crazy, while I’m learning on my own.”

Rae announced his partnership with Atlantic Records for the Raedio label in October 2019. Early artists on the list included TeaMarrr and Yung Baby Tate (who later shortened his name to Baby Tate and joined the Warner Records lineup). Raedio’s latest release, “Insecure: Music From The HBO Original Series, Season 5,” was released on December 5. The final season soundtrack featured a new track from TeaMarrr and a new single from Saweetie, “Get It Girl”, as well as contributions from Thundercat, They, Nnena, Josh Levi, BK Habermehl, Mereba and others.