Breaking The Barrier: How HBO's Insecure has became an outlet for rising artists
Written by Reyna Fallin
Once upon a time, there was an ongoing dialogue on the internet claiming oh so many similarities between HBO’s ‘Insecure’ and HBO’s ‘Girls'. The only similarities these shows have are that they are written by women and that those women have a hand in the soundtrack to every episode.
There are differences, even, WITHIN those similarities. The most obvious being, of course, that Insecure is written by a black woman and Girls by a white woman. (Whether or not that has anything to do with the following difference is personal opinion) Then there’s the music.
While both HBO series feature music from the obscure to the top of the charts, the music in Insecure feels more woven into the episodes. On the post-show wine down of the most recent episode, Rae introduced audiences to this season’s musical producer: The Raphael Saadiq. Besides his Tony! Toni! Tone! days, Saadiq’s credits include production on iconic black culture hits such as Love of My Life (An ode to Hip Hop) by Erykah Badu ft. Common, Angie Stone’s soulful ballad "Brotha", D’Angelo’s defining hit of the late 90s, Untitled (How Does It Feel), and more recently, he produced a ton of Solange’s A Seat at the Table. Outside of radio hits, Saadiq has worked on a slew of films over his career as a composer, but Insecure is his first bout with television.
The show’s musical consultant is none other than the Solange Knowles, whose finger is on the pulse of what’s hot, and also, what resonates with woman. Issa Rae seems to be sharing the spotlight with as many women as she possibly can.
I have been introduced to a number of amazing female artists through this show, such as Dreezy – the young Chicago-native rapper who was recently on tour with Gucci Mane. Lion Babe, whose aesthetic and brand I was aware of thanks to social media, but whose music I had never thought I’d heard. Thanks to Insecure I found I had, in fact, heard her before and, I loved her. As well as Kari Faux, who wrote the song “Top Down” for the season finale after a few of her previously released songs were featured throughout season one. Every episode connects an audience to at least seven different artists, most of which happen to be black women. The thing that is setting this particular form of product placement apart from others of the same medium – such as Girls – is that no one is selling a product. The soundtracks are not background music to Rae’s writing, but, rather, narrative music to Issa’s story.
Of course, we want to add these songs to our phones and hear them play in the background of our own lives, we’re relating so well via screen. Unlike the Issa she plays on the show, Issa Rae has presented herself as a force to be reckoned with. From YouTube to HBO, the writer/actress/freelance rapper has successfully crafted, fleshed, and gifted to audiences a uniquely stylized black show we have not seen before. Rae, Solange, and Saadiq are giving a platform – a premium television platform – to music artists who deserve the stage and light.
Check out Insecure on HBOGo here.