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Issa Rae's favorite Tiny Desk concerts

For Tiny Desk Playlists, we ask musicians, creators and folks we admire to choose the Tiny Desk concerts they've come to love. For this edition, we asked actor Issa Rae to pick her favorites.

When it comes to music curation, the synergy between HBO's Insecure and Tiny Desk Concert series is unmistakable. It was only natural that the two joined forces. Insecure creator and star Issa Rae and music supervisor Kier Lehman just happen to have the same passion for authentic R&B and commitment to championing new artists as we do at the Tiny Desk. We both keep our ear to the pavement to find that next emerging star in Black music, so that we can hear the sweet phrase "I first discovered them on (Insecure or Tiny Desk). Since we have so many artists in common, I was curious to hear what Issa's top five Tiny Desk concerts by Insecure alumni are. —Bobby Carter


Raphael Saadiq — Well, first I have to give all praise to Raphael Saadiq and just his artistry. He composes the music for our show, so anything you hear that's not a needle drop, any vibes you hear, they're all personally composed by him. And watching his Tiny Desk, when he linked up with Lucky Daye for "You Should Be Here" was just phenomenal. It's just a reminder, like: You are a legend and we're so lucky to have you contribute to our show. I just become a fan over and over again whenever I hear him.

Nick Hakim — Kier Lehman [Insecure's music supervisor] put me on to Nick Hakim and being able to play "Needy Bees" in season two — falling in love with that song and putting it over such a key moment was so essential to me. I've just been following his career, and he's on our soundtrack, and he produced a track again for us this season. And he's just so rawly talented and unique. He does it all as well. I love anybody who plays instruments as well, so that wins.

Baby Rose — Baby Rose has such a unique voice. She sounds like she's been here before, and you can't believe that voice is coming out of her body at her age, no less. "Show You" was one of my favorite song placements. It was a song that I knew from jump, I was like, "Oh, I want this to be the Issa and Lawrence reconciliation." I was just super, super scared that it was gonna get played somewhere else, just like I usually am every season if I have a song that I'm excited about. There are two songs in the series finale where I'm like, I swear to God if anybody plays these songs, I'll be pissed.

Sampha — Sampha has an incredible voice and he's been so frequent throughout the show. And hearing him live, he sounds the same! Sometimes I get worried when you hear a song as it is on the album, and if it doesn't sound the same [live], you're like "Oh what happened?" But with his, everything matches up so perfectly. Sampha is just a favorite of mine. I was introduced to Sampha by Solange when she was doing the music for season one, so he has a special place in my heart.

Thundercat — I said I love people who play instruments, and Thundercat is just out of this world. Watching his Tiny Desk was so fun because sometimes the lyrics escape me because it sounds so melodic. And to hear... What song was it? It's so goofy, I think it was the "Friend Zone" song. To hear him sing it and to hear the lyrics are, lowkey kind of dumb. But to hear it sound so melodic was just like a treat for me. So I have to give that spot to Thundercat.

SiR — The runner-up, I gotta give to SiR because, you know, Inglewood. That's my guy. His voice is incredibly beautiful. So, I can do top 5, and runner up 6. ... [His Tiny Desk concert] it's such a family affair. And that's why they're so incredible. That whole family is incredible.


Tiny Desks In This Playlist

Raphael Saadiq
Nick Hakim
Baby Rose
Sampha
Thundercat
SiR

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