Each and every Sunday, there’s endless discourse on the characters on Issa Rae’s hit HBO show, Insecure. #LawrenceHive spent the first few episodes of this third season feeling bad for themselves (just like Lawrence did the first two seasons, so it’s only natural) with the sorry ex-boyfriend’s absence from the show allowing us to get to know Issa’s fallback bae and partner in cheating, Daniel.
In prior seasons, Daniel came across as the one that got away. Additionally, he’s been very pridefully pursuing his career as a music producer; something he’s long been committed to. But in these Daniel-centered episodes this season, we got to know the more insecure (if you will) side of the self-proclaimed Issa Dee ride-or-die.
Until now, our view of Daniel’s work as a music producer has been founded in late night studio sessions with mood lighting with hella bud and a lovable performance for Issa’s kids at career day. This season, however, with Issa’s close proximity to Daniel (on his goddamn couch), we see how unsure of himself he is as Issa sidekicks him to the club to see Khalil and Spyder, the self-doubt when he questions calling Khalil, the stubbornness when he can’t seem to grasp collaborating with Khalil, his pride when Issa tries to talk to him about his falling out with Khalil, and his ego when comparing his success to Khalil’s.
Most memorably, when given the chance to put some sounds together with Khalil for his friend and the major artist he works closely with, Spyder, Daniel opts to play his own beats rather than the one Khalil made some additional contributions to. Ultimately, he ends up hurting his relationship with Khalil and being quickly looked over by Spyder.
We spoke to producers of some of your favorite music about Daniel’s character and how he conducts his business in the music industry.
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Production Credits: Jorja Smith’s “February 3rd,” Frank Ocean’s “Chanel,” “Nights,” “Rushes To,” Earl Sweatshirt’s “Pre,” and executive produced and has writing credits on Kevin Abstract’s album, American Boyfriend
On Daniel: “First of all, I hate when people think they are doing more or what they are working on is “better” because they are using live instrumentation like Daniel does. The situation with Spyder was graciously brought to him by his friend and he’s allowed his pride to ruin it. I hate that. Being so blinded with pride, he refuses to be grateful to this guy Khalil that is actually his friend. Being mad is one thing but playing your own version in the studio is snakelike and if I were in Khalil’s shoes I’d find it hard to work with him again. His ego is too unhealthy and his beats don’t slap enough to be a successful producer.”
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Production Credits: Beyonce’s “Sorry” and co-writing on Beyonce’s “Hold Up,” and scored music for Beyonce’s Lemonade, and designed sounds for her Formation Tour and On The Run Tours, as well as PartyNextDoor’s Summer’s Over Tour.
On Daniel: “Daniel going through sh*t. Dead a**. The collaborative creative process should always be just a process, not a competition unless that’s how y’all communicate. Like me and NXGN have super collaborative sessions. Tons of good ideas and bad ones fly around. We may agree, disagree, or agree to disagree on certain things, but once we have something complete that we all f**k with, it’s go time.
Daniel did some silly snake sh*t when he played the original as if it were the final project. He wasn’t confident, that’s why. I’ve had people say sh*t was wack in a session or not feeling the direction. As a producer you’re supposed to find the balance in your own creative direction and the needs of the artist your working with. Daniel the type a n***a that working with other producers should be a breeze when both of your intent is making the most fire sh*t. If Daniel wasn’t confident in the piece, he should have just said that at the first session.
Daniel wants to be different for the sake of being different. He actually liked the drums on the track but because they were modern in sound, he shunned it. Don’t be that n***a. And don’t be the n***a that does everything with no originality. Just be honest with what you are willing and not willing to do creatively. People respect that always. And if they don’t, f**k ‘em!”
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Production Credits: Belly’s “Maintain,” Jhene Aiko’s “Overstimulated,” Omarion’s “Ode To Tae”
On Daniel: “His social anxiety happens a lot when linking with artists that he doesn’t really know but his ego about chasing the artist (Spyder) down really is going to be a hindrance for his career. I’m surprised he didn’t want to get the connection from Khalil. Daniel has to separate his personal feelings about Khalil to take care of business with Spyder. His ego cost him his opportunity with Spyder by playing his version of the track instead of playing the track he did with Khalil.
Even if you don’t know an artist, the circle is so small. I’m always one step away from the artist I would love to work with. But unlike Daniel, I like to build with an artist way before we even talk about doing music together. I think because music is so intimate, and that artist is sharing something deep, I think having a connection helps when creating.
I respect that Daniel has his own production style and really focused on instrumentation but what caught him out there with collaborating with Khalil was he wasn’t willing to really co-produce and listen to Khalil’s direction. Khalil has already done tracks for Spyder, so Daniel not taking his direction was silly.
I love to collaborate with other producers. I think that’s a part of learning. Also records that I hear today… it’s not done alone. It’s refreshing to get another perspective and ears on your music. I’m all about a vibe but Daniel seems like he is super impatient and not interested in building with Spyder at all, which is a turn off for most.
Lastly, I love the fact that Daniel is a true studio rat (inside the studio and at his house set up). I totally understand turning down favors for people who don’t take their craft seriously. My life motto is ‘forever a student.’ I think it’s key to be a student to your craft and this industry. I learn something new every day. Even though his record didn’t make the cut on the Ty Dolla Sign album, it still was a good look for him, his ego just can’t see it.”
Production Credits: Dr. Dre’s Compton and is an in-house audio engineer for Aftermath Entertainment
On Daniel: “I think Daniel is someone who isn’t a team player and will step on the next person’s toes in order to get ahead. His ego is too big for his own good, and he doesn’t realize he’s sabotaging himself. When Khalil told him to make the changes on the beat he should have just played ball and realized it could have lead to more opportunities later down the line. He ruined a great relationship with the person who brought him in the building, and the music wasn’t really impressive.”
Production Credits: ASAP Rocky’s “Back Home,” “Bomaye” featuring Joey Purp, Topaz Jones, Michael Christmas’ “Just Blaze”
On Daniel: “I feel like whoever in the writers’ room that dated a producer gave us a bad rep. He’s WAY too prideful. It’s one thing to own your sound but it’s another to have this superiority complex that hinders him at every opportunity. He has this misconstrued path he’s set up for himself, and his ego is one giant road block he’s failed to observe. Khalil isn’t trying to stop him from succeeding, he’s actually helping him genuinely and that mountain of pride is hindering Daniel from even seeing it. I’d highly advise to be careful in the art of collaboration but not to be overbearing to the point of where he’s guarded. Word of advice: if another producer has a lead or an in with another artist, follow the other producer. Never overstep boundaries in those situations, you can screw up your chances of working with that artist or even worse, damage the relationship between the other producer and artist.
Studio etiquette goes as follows: Stay open to new ideas when it comes to collaboration. Stay true to yourself, but never to a fault. Learn how to shine with others and watch the glow burn brighter. Never make your collaborators look bad.”
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Production credits: Meek Mill’s “I Don’t Know,” Kevin Gates’ “Around Me,” Trae the Truth’s “I’m On 2.0” featuring Big K.R.I.T., Jadakiss, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, B.o.B., and Tyga
On Daniel: “He’s a pretty typical wide-eyed producer; kinda like someone who just moved to L.A. He’s not wrong, a lot of producers are really like that. He obviously loves the game and is super passionate. The scenarios are real. [Laughs] He overthinks mad stuff like many of us producers (not me). He is pretty corny, but most of us have our corny moments. He is a good dude overall, though. Let’s see how he progresses after he gets a few wins.”
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