In addition to the dramatic plotlines and unexpected twists that made HBO’s recently-ended Insecure one of the hottest shows on TV, the songs and artists showcased throughout the series’ five-season run have also certified creator Issa Rae’s status as a curator within music circles.
However, according to Rae, her time rubbing elbows with those in the music industry has been less than ideal, in fact, leading her to deem it “abusive” and run by “crooks and criminals” in a recent interview.
“I thought Hollywood was crazy,” Rae told the Los Angeles Times in reference to her negative behind-the-scenes experiences. “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.”
She continued, adding, “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. I want to revamp things.”
The 36-year-old actress, writer, and director also criticized mainstream institutions like the Grammy’s Recording Academy, which failed to acknowledge Nigerian Afrobeats artist WizKid’s monstrous single, “Essence,” in its Record of the Year category.
“Y’all don’t get it,” Issa expressed to the industry gatekeepers. “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.”
Read Issa Rae’s full interview with the Los Angeles Times here.