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Issa Rae's New Record Label Proves That She Is The Queen Of Making Silent Moves

Diversifying your income always pays off.

Issa Rae

This time next year, we will finally have a reason to renew our HBO Go subscriptions because our favorite Awkward Black Girl is bringing her hit show back to television after a year-long hiatus and we've already got our popcorn ready.

While Issa Rae has spent the past few years making some major moves in the film and TV industry, kicking it with industry heavy hitters like Ava DuVernay, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Shonda Rhimes, now, this mogul is on a mission to take over the music game. Last Friday on Instagram, Issa revealed her latest business endeavor and it's one that'll get your weekly playlist all the way together.

Raedio, Issa's new record label, is a joint venture with Atlantic Records that is dedicated to championing independent female artists. The first of which is breakout artist, TeaMarr, who recently released her first single "Kinda Love". In a statement, Issa explained:

"Music has always been an essential part of every project I do and working with emerging talent is a personal passion. Raedio allows me to continue that work within the music industry and audio entertainment space. The Atlantic Records team are innovators in terms of shifting and shaping culture. I'm excited to join forces with them to discover new artists."

The loudest person in the room is usually the least important and over the past few years, Issa has proven that she is the queen of making moves in silence. Along with Raedio, Issa has also had her hand in a few other (money) bags this year, proving that diversifying your income always pays off and we have the details on exactly how she did it.

Here are three power plays Issa made this year that will inspire you to get all the way in your bag.

Partnering with Google

I didn't know I needed Issa Rae to tell me the current weather conditions until today and now my life will never be the same.

Following in the footsteps of Samuel L. Jackson, who was recently announced as the first celebrity voice of Amazon's Alexa, Issa Rae recently linked up with Google to be the voice assistant you didn't know you needed. In an interview with CNN, the actress explained that although she was intially taken aback by the company's offer to collaborate, she soon realized that she was the perfect person for the position:

"I was like, 'What? Me?' I was a little scared… Google is huge, and I had never done anything like this. I do consider myself to have a very helpful voice."

Production Hustling

Although the Insecure crew took a one-year hiatus from the show, Issa has been working, dominating both the big and small screen. But these days, Issa is doing a lot more work off-camera. Earlier this year, it was announced that the 34-year-old hustler would be producing a remake of the 1996 classic Set It Off and helped bring all of our favorite women together for an epically televised family reunion on A Black Lady Sketch Show.

Securing A Bag In Streaming

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You should never put all your eggs in one basket, and if we take a page out of Issa's book, we'd know that you should never invest all your time in one industry. Sis says she was rooting for everybody black, and she meant it; especially when it comes to her business endeavors. Issa recently put her money where her mouth is, investing in Tech Guru and serial entrepreneur, Angela Benton's L.A.-based startup company, Streamlytics. In a statement, Issa shared:

"As streaming services become the standard for how people consume content and information, tools and companies like Streamlytics are necessary for transparency and consumer ownership. Angela's drive and innovative spirit is the reason why she is a pioneer in the tech space and why I'm excited to partner with her in this endeavor."

Featured image by NBC via Instagram/@issarae.

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Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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