One of many things fans have come to love about Atlanta is its incredible soundtrack. Over the past two seasons, the comedy-drama series has incorporated a diverse range of beloved tunes from acts like Sam Cooke, Migos, Curtis Mayfield, Funkadelic, and Young Thug; however, obtaining clearance for these sounds can sometimes be a difficult task—especially when the record is paired with an uncomfortable scene.
This was the case for season two’s standout episode “Teddy Perkins,” in which the series’ star/creator Donald Glover played the creepy titular character. Atlanta co-music supervisor Jen Malone said Glover had set out to use Stevie Wonder’s music at the beginning and end of the violent episode; however, there was some hesitation on Wonder’s part, as “Teddy Perkins” concluded with a murder-suicide.
So, what did Glover do? He reached out to the legendary musician personally.
“Donald had to get on the phone with Stevie and we were all very intrigued about what went on on that phone call,” Malone told Variety. “But we ended up getting the song and it was just such a perfect musical moment.”
Another song that was also difficult to clear? “The Race” by incarcerated rapper Tay-K.
“The kid’s in jail. For murder, and he’s probably never getting out,” Malone said. “But his song was, like, No. 40 on Billboard, so he does have management, and the management had to go jail, visit with him, and have him sign off on the request.”
You can read the rest of Malone's interview here.
Atlanta season three is expected to air in 2019 on FX.