Since its debut in 2016, Issa Rae’s Insecure has been the visual diary of an awkward black girl. Whether you’re screaming with laughter or your jaw has dropped in shock at the dramatic scenes, one of the staples of the beautifully curated experience that is Insecure has been its soundtrack. We’re into the fifth and final season of the chronicles of adulting, and Raedio, Atlantic Records and HBO have now released INSECURE: Music From the HBO Original Series, Season 5; the soundtrack to the season, and a great mix of music from major artists and rising stars.
Much like the series’ Issa Dee, Rae has been in the business of putting young Los Angeles artists on the map. Many have broken new records on the show, or gotten their first sync placement because of her dedication to elevating young, black talent. “Insecure and the Insecure soundtrack acts as a tool to break artists or at least introduce people to artists,” says Benoni Tagoe, Rae’s longtime business partner. “[Issa has] told me there’s times when she may have picked a song, and she feels like if she watches a cut of Insecure and the song doesn’t fit, it really ruins it for her.”
Kier Lehman has handled the music supervision for the series for a number of years but Rae has been very hands on with her approach. A team that once included Solange Knowles and Raphael Saadique in its music curation and supervision department, their work has been stellar in the communication of emotion during the show’s scenes.
In addition to the soundtrack, they’ve also put together Insecure Interludes, an audio journey in the form of a playlist. It combines the music from the series and the stories behind it. The stories behind the music includes commentary from Rae, Lehman, and artists like Rico Nasty, Vince Staples, Victoria Monet, and Rae’s co-star Jay Ellis.
“From the beginning, music has played an integral part in Insecure. The music itself is a character—it’s a friend, it’s a familiar voice and that’s always been the intention,” Rae told Billboard in a statement. “Music has a way of taking us back to a specific memory or moment in time and I think a lot of people can relate to that when they hear a song on the show. When it came to developing the final soundtrack, I knew Kier and Raedio could capture that feeling and leave our fans with something they can always return to, while also providing a platform for emerging artists to have their voices heard on an international scale.”
Beyond the soundtrack of the show, Rae’s taken her talent for music curation and development to the music publishing game. She founded Raedio with Atlantic Records, a start-to-finish music supervision and consulting service for all media that operates as an “audio everywhere company.” Signing acts like Josh Levi and TeaMarrr, Tagoe said to Billboard of their venture, “We were able to put people in rooms that normally wouldn’t be in a room together, whether that be because of stature of their career at the moment or because they just haven’t crossed paths.”
A cultural gamechanger, Insecure and Issa Rae have elevated black artists and uplifted entire creative communities through considered and authentic storytelling. If you haven’t yet, check it out on Showmax here.