Tuma Basa, YouTube’s Director of Black Music & Tradition and the founding father of Spotify’s Rap Caviar playlist, has spoken to NME about hip-hop’s fiftieth anniversary, YouTube’s new FIFTY DEEP programme and why Soulja Boy deserves his props as an innovator of “youth culture.”
The Congolese-American’s profession has been closely intertwined with the style. Earlier in his life, he helped programme hip-hop music on BET – the place exhibits like Rap Metropolis earned the community large scores, VJed on MTV within the early ‘00s, and even labored at Revolt, the music-orientated TV channel co-founded by rap mogul Diddy, for 3 years.
Certainly one of his largest feats, nonetheless, is creating the favored Rap Caviar playlist for Spotify: now the most-followed rap playlist on the streaming platform and meant to characterize the creme de la creme of all issues hip-hop.
“I didn’t pitch it necessarily,” Basa mentioned, explaining how Rap Caviar happened. “[Spotify] requested me, ‘Hey, we need a name for a flagship playlist.’ This girl referred to as Molly despatched me a textual content [of] an image of Puff [Diddy], after which I considered Rap Caviar.
Basa additionally revealed that the title was impressed by the late music govt Andre Harrell, who based Uptown Data and was a mentor to Diddy, one other progressive spearhead in hip-hop. “He taught me a lot,” he mentioned. “When he was younger, he was once a rapper [in a group called] Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. They referred to as themselves ‘The champagne of rap.’
“So, Andre Harrell, [someone] who taught me so much [and] gave me so much time and wisdom, used to always talk about a concept that he created which is now commonly known as ‘Ghetto fabulous.’ The whole inspiration was very much influenced by Puff and Andre Harrell.”
On August 11 – the day many hip-hop historians have agreed was when the style began when DJ Kool Herc threw a “back to school jam” within the Bronx – YouTube launched its new “cultural campaign” FIFTY DEEP to have a good time and educate others on hip-hop and its tradition, “saluting how far [the genre] come”. Within the official announcement, Basa wrote that the mission of the programme “is for every generation to dig into the gems of YouTube’s archival treasury of Hip Hop.”
Lyor Cohen, who’s the Head of Music at YouTube, mentioned to Basa that for Hip Hop 50, “We [YouTube] cannot treat our acknowledgement of this milestone as an opportunity. We have to treat it as a responsibility.”
“We make it easier for people to discover, consume and participate in hip-hop culture,” Basa mentioned. “That’s what FIFTY DEEP is about. FIFTY DEEP is making it easy to dig into the treasures and gems [that] live on YouTube.”
The programme features a visible library of two,000 movies that “have changed the game” for hip-hop music, a customized Yoodle (YouTube’s model of the Google Doodle) to pay homage to the phenomenon of kind beats, and a Google Arts & Tradition Hip Hop Hub to collate “a wide range of cultural institutions’ collections and curated stories.”
Adamant that Hip-Hop 50 needs to be “treated with nuance and sophistication,” Tuma Basa agreed that the academic components of the programme are an important. “We call[ed] it FIFTY DEEP on purpose,” he mentioned. “We do not put a time stamp on it so, next year, when it’s not year 50, but year 51, year 52 [we will still be championing hip-hop]. This is the kickoff.”
Tuma Basa additionally included Soulja Boy’s achievements in his weblog put up. On August 14, Soulja Boy aired his frustrations about being omitted of lots of the style’s anniversary celebrations and the disregard for “birthing the new wave of rappers.”
He tweeted: “After I got here within the sport they mentioned I killed hip-hop. However actually, I birthed the brand new wave of hip-hop with web/streaming. Forward of my time. #HipHop50
“Now everyone vlogs their career like me. Now everyone uploads their music to the internet. Now everyone goes live for their fans. I started it. Thank me or not. Flowers/Credit or not. #HipHop50”
After I got here within the sport they mentioned I killed hip hop. However actually, I birthed the brand new wave of hip hop with web/streaming. Forward of my time. #HipHop50
— Soulja Boy (Draco) (@souljaboy) August 13, 2023
Now everybody vlogs their profession like me. Now everybody uploads their music to the web. Now everybody goes dwell for his or her followers. I began it. Thank me or not. Flowers/Credit score or not. #HipHop50
— Soulja Boy (Draco) (@souljaboy) August 13, 2023
NME requested why it was so essential to name-check the revolutionary rapper. “I was at MTV, programming videos [and ‘Crank That’] was blowing up on YouTube,” Basa replied, citing the then-17-year-old’s ‘Crank That’ as the primary time hip-hop was “poppin’” on the platform.
“In my opinion, that was the beginning of YouTube being a destination to discover youth culture – at that time, it was youth culture,” he continued. “That was a phenomenon. Let’s not neglect how phenomenal that was. Here’s a child [from] Mississippi [who] does his dance, blows up. Have you learnt how many individuals have copied [this] since then?
“Give the man the respect for the things he accomplished. Those early achievements [were] innovative. Let’s show him some respect. There are a lot of people that understand [how] important the moment was, not just for YouTube, but for hip-hop. [‘Crank That’s success] ushered in the do-it-yourself ethos.”
When requested about the way forward for his beloved style that he’s championed for many years, Tuma Basa mentioned: “What’s the way forward for hip-hop and YouTube involvement? Continuous. To cite younger Drake. It’s continuous.
“Hip-hop has always been evolving,” he added, reflecting on how far the style has come. “It’s always been an ongoing, continual thing. [Hip-Hop 50] is a beautiful excuse to celebrate the past, preserve the heritage and tell the stories of [its] history.”
He continued: “Even when hip-hop was popping in the streets and it didn’t reflect in sales or radio play, we knew it was popping because [it was] on the street level [and] there were these hidden markets. That’s how I look at the culture: it’s not something that you can easily measure.”
As promised, YouTube’s Hip-Hop 50 celebrations will proceed after August. Subsequent week, Tuma Basa will probably be in London for the annual YouTube Legacy Social gathering which celebrates all pioneers of UK rap music this yr and is hosted by Cohen.
Additionally, there will probably be a one-day academic summit referred to as Future Insiders with SocialFixt on September 4 “to inspire creators from Black creative hubs.” The founders of the Strawberries and Creem Competition, SK — who manages Ivorian Doll – and extra will probably be on the panel.