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Since Tuma Basa broke into the music industry in the late ‘90s, he’s seen first-hand the complete transformation of the business. But amid the changes, Tuma has been a consistent force in curating hip-hop music and connecting it with brand-new audiences far and wide. That’s on full display in his current role as the Director of Black Music & Culture at YouTube.
It’s a unique title for an even more unique individual. Tuma cut his teeth in music on the programming side, working for BET and MTV for over 10 years. Next, he was a guiding force in the launch of P Diddy’s REVOLT TV. But once the industry embraced streaming, Tuma left traditional TV and joined the new frontier with Spotify. There, he was the curator behind the RapCaviar playlist — which amassed over nine million followers at the time, making it a top-5 Spotify playlist globally.
Tuma joined YouTube in 2018. The platform may not get the credit that a service like Spotify does, but it’s just as influential in bridging artists directly with listeners. True to form, Tuma is leveraging YouTube’s worldwide reach and connecting it with not only emerging artists (think NBA YoungBoy) but on-the-rise genres too (AfroBeats, Dancehall).
I really enjoyed this interview with Tuma, who is on the frontlines of the streaming era. Here are all the topics we covered on the show:
[02:44] Being on the front lines with the hip hop world
[04:55] Tuma’s experience working at MTV when Dancehall was becoming part of mainstream music
[06:01] The disconnection in terms of expectations: paid shows vs promo
[07:50] Tuma talks about African artists and folk traditional music
[09:28] The reasons why Tuma found Youtube attractive
[11:14] Breaking barriers and giving more exposure to artists through streaming
[12:45] What does success look like for Tuma?
[15:23] Why you should spend time and have more focus on Youtube
[18:30] NBA YoungBoy: One of the biggest stars on Youtube
[26:36] The role of technology in the music industry
[28:26] The CD and DVD era
[31:15] Tuma’s outlook about generation transfer, and the concept of an album
[37:51] Trends where music is heading, and what people think about emerging technology
[41:45] What Tuma wants the “Trapital” audience to know about
Listen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSS
Host: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.co
Guest: Tuma Basa https://www.linkedin.com/in/tumabasa/ https://www.instagram.com/tumabasa/?hl=en
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Tuma Basa 00:00
The concept of an album is important because gives us a standard to compare to what before and then also gives us incentive use artists incentive gives artists, especially the producers, to make timeless music, Evergreen standards, right? So that even when they’re not here, their art or their music still lives on. You said they may not physically be around, but their music lives on.
Dan Runcie 00:34
Hey, welcome to “The Trapital Podcast”. I’m your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from executives in music, media, entertainment, and more, who are taking hip hop culture to the next level. Today’s episode is with Tuma Basa, who is the director of black music and culture at YouTube. Ever since I started “The Trapital Podcast”, people have been like: Hey, you got to get Tuma on here. You know Tuma Basa? You have got to get him on here. So it was great to finally make this happen. I’ve been following his work for a while. And it’s been great to see even before what he’s done streaming from BET to MTV revolt. And then now more recently, the streaming services. He sees it all, especially now at a global perspective, given the role that he’s had. So we’ve talked a lot about what success looks like for him at YouTube. What are the benchmarks that he’s measuring himself on, and we talked about the successful artists too, we talked all about NBA YoungBoy, you can’t talk to a YouTube exec and not talk about NBA YoungBoy, especially on a podcast like this. It’s just what he’s doing uniquely. And then we also talked a lot about Africa, because that’s been a big focus for Tuma. He’s originally from Rwanda, and just being able to see what his vision is and the potential there and how even though there’s been a lot of growth in the past decade, there’s just so much more that it can go in that I think we will see continuing moving forward. But we also just talked about some specific things about streaming, web 3.0, and a whole lot more. This was a great conversation. He’s a really brilliant guy, and I hope you enjoy it. Here’s my chat with Tuma Basa. Alright, we got the streaming titan himself, the expert Tuma Basa, welcome to the podcast, man.
Tuma Basa 02:23
No, thank you for having me. Trapital’s how I keep up what’s going on with the economics of hip hop.
Dan Runcie 02:29
Love to hear it man! Definitely. For you, you’re leading the front on this year, you’re for YouTube. I mean, I feel like so much has changed in the time you’ve been there specifically with black music and hip hop. How have things evolved on your end since you’ve been there?
Tuma Basa 02:44
And so I think it’s just the engagement thing, where now we have the people and we have the presence, we have the intention. We have the you know what I mean? to kind of be on the frontlines with the hip hop world and with and all the other things that coming up like the rise of Afro beats, and you know, just now we’re about to do something with Jamaica, you know, and how influential that’s tiny island is, you know.
Dan Runcie 03:09
Talk to me about what you got with Jamaica. I’m Jamaican so…
Tuma Basa 03:12
This is Jamaican? Okay, so basically, I mean, it’s, it’s more of an awareness, internal awareness is we have Shaggy and Spice in our Head of Public Health, who’s also Jamaican, along with Lior just going through evaluating the Jamaica’s cultural capital, right? So Jamaica, is the influence is crazy, you know, I mean, between the music and the unintended byproducts of the culture, like the birth of hip hop or the birth of reggaeton. Or, you know, is the trend setting with the legalization of marijuana, and, you know, those topics and, and dreadlocks turning to a stop. So what happens is, so it doesn’t have the human capital of let’s say, China’s a billion people, in Nigeria is 200 million people, Ethiopia is 100 million people, right? It’s like 2.8 million people, but it doesn’t have the economic capital, right? In terms of like spinning power of like, let’s say even I don’t even know what the population of Norway is. But there’s cultural capital, you know, is unmatched in terms of per capita. Jamaica has unmatched cultural capital per capita, right? In terms of digits, outputs, the stars, you know what I mean, even in music. So for me, Jamaica is a special place, I grew up listening to a Jamaican music, Jimmy Cliff, and Bob Marley, and then later Freddie McGregor and stuff like that. So it’s always been a part of like, my personal life and even professionally. Like being present when Oh, you know, I can talk about that forever, by the way. Oh, man! But that’s basically it’s more, more internal. But it’s, you know, I mean, it’s just to evaluate and like, hey, like, you know.
Dan Runcie 04:48
That’s good to hear because one of the things I always thought a lot about the late 90s, early 2000s. Dancehall is becoming more and more a part of the mainstream music Sean Paul, Buju, everyone is blowing up at this moment. But if you look back, I still feel like it was a little early in terms of the industry being ready to truly build infrastructure because I feel like by the late 2000s, so much of that reggae fusion moment that you’d had wasn’t hitting the same way. And I feel like the same way that we’re seeing international expansion in other areas now and even what you’re talking about what you have going on in Jamaica, it’s like: Ah, if that was, you know, the way it was 20 years ago.
Tuma Basa 05:29
When I was there 20 years ago in terms of like, in the mix, I was I was working at MTV when the when all that happened, and first of all was historic, right? With the Sean Paul would give me the light blew up, but then he had Wayne Wonder, and you had T.O.K. And Elephant Man who was one of the best performance I’ve ever seen in my life up to date, right? It was a wave in VP how to deal with Atlantic, other people to go and try to sign you know, it was just incredible time. It’s incredible time. But one of the other things that I saw was I saw a lot of disconnect as well, in terms of, of expectations, whether it be paid shows versus promo, you know what I mean? So what happens is, I believe that with everything, there’s always a wave and then a crash, and then then it comes back, you know, like, after that chasm, right? Things come back. And we’ve seen that before we saw that with dot coms. We saw the reggaeton, reggaeton, few remember the early days of reggaeton there were all these, what they called urban stations, Hispanic urban stations, like reggaeton with Daddy Yankee, when gasolina and rompe rompe and all those blew up, it was and then a lot of those disappeared, they burned out didn’t have enough content to think. But it came back so strong. It was like, when it came back, it came back so strong because it had those the learning costs were paid. You know what I mean? Like people learn, okay, this is how it works here this how it works there. This how it works in Jamaica is no different. By the way, Jamaica is absolutely no different. Because music is a part of the culture there. And as now as the internet, the economics, you know, may have changed, etc. No, no different. I love Jamaica, this special place my heart if I could? Yeah, you know. Yeah, the way you talk about that reminds me of something I see you say also about African artists, and specifically Afro beats, I think, yeah, asked about Wizkid. And why maybe he hasn’t blown up in the same way that a bad buddy might have blown up, you know, relative in that respect. And I remember your response to something along the lines of well, you know, like, these things happen in waves, and there is a time cycle, or there’s a life cycle that you normally see. And that moments gonna come. Yes, a matter of, you know, time. Yeah, by the way, I even to be honest with you, I don’t even know the African of this wave right now. That’s happening right now, the current wave, what’s going to happen in my lifetime, I spent my teenage years in Africa, you know. So I lived in American elementary school, we moved in when I was in junior high, we moved back, right? And so I knew that the music was always there. And the popularity was always there on the continent. And it was the folk traditional music. And then there was stuff that young people listen to, and you can hear in the clubs on the radio, you know. They call this show convenient, Venga, which was like the equivalent of Rob McDaniels video music box, or, you know, I mean, etc. And then the club was called the Dean Dindi. You know, I mean, so what happens is, that music was always there, and there was always popping and it was always bottomless in terms of supply. Right, it even right now, by the way, I’m now gonna just getting like a tip of what actually exists, you know, I mean, like, in terms of what’s actually exporting to American soil, to see this actually connected to see people have never stepped a foot in Africa, or, or maybe even looked down on Africa thought it was like the jungle or, you know, I mean, or, or had bad perceptions, or whatever given to them by the media, or by their schools, actually enjoy African music. I love it. And that happening in my lifetime, while I’m still active in the music business. You know.
Dan Runcie 09:15
It’s impressive, man, it’s impressive. I mean, the fact that. Yeah, you didn’t expect to see this in your lifetime. And now you’re seeing it. But now you’re having an active role in that with the work you’re doing now at YouTube, and how much of a push it’s been for those artists.
Tuma Basa 09:28
Well, that was part of the reason that YouTube was attractive to me because I knew what was going on, right? And I knew YouTube’s part in that, whether it be by default, because of the way that it was set up, right? But it’s very, very popular over there. YouTube is such a strong platform, and the fact that you can monetize on YouTube is makes a huge difference, you know, is it’s nice to be visible and seen and heard, etc. But it’s even nicer to be visible and seen and paid, right? So That was a big part of the attraction even working at YouTube is because now you’re actually participating not just in the exhibition of African culture, but you’re also participating in the economics like this is like straight up business like, you know, and I love it and, and then also it’s connecting, you’re connecting African Americans and Afro Caribbean and British black people who are really the drivers of all this, by the way. So this is London is the one that in terms of economics, I’m not talking about the the consumption, the musical, the listening, the London that’s that British pound, that’s hard currency. You know, that’s yeah, that’s, yeah, that’s, that’s a different, that’s something else, you know.
Dan Runcie 10:44
Yeah! I mean, I feel like what is strong and why YouTube is so powerful on that space, we’ve just seen it across the board international exposure, it’s able to give artists and how quickly it’s able to reach with much less friction, than I think a lot of other streaming services, that works very well for you all. And that obviously, now you’re seeing the investment from the major record label side going into these regions, because of what streaming has been able to do by breaking those barriers. And for just giving more of that exposure. I think, it’s I’ve seen you talk about in this way, it’s a lot of these things were already popular for so long streaming just democratized a lot of it. And by connecting listener to artist, you’re able to see and unlock a lot more of that opportunity.
Tuma Basa 11:34
And you know, being the connector is something that’s underrated, people don’t understand the value of that. It was a platform, right. But even as people, just people, when there’s like a filter processes, then you can trust, actually, the whole playlist thing is that playlist are trusted filters, there’s so much music out there, etc, etc. In order to keep up that’s your reference in terms of what you’re looking for. And you trusting that filter. So YouTube itself is a platform, right? It’s international as it is it helps not just hold it news. I mean, I just hold the music, but the engagement, you can see the interviews that somebody is watching this on YouTube, right now. Somebody is watching this on YouTube, right now, the exchange of information that’s happening in real time, the exchange of Boogie the exchange of money, because when you watch it, and they run ads, pop the watch it on your premium, a little piece of that nine, whatever, whatever, I’m not gonna say the price, because you know, is going to the creator. So that’s fun. That’s, that’s history, you know.
Dan Runcie 12:42
Now that’s what’s up. So for you in this role, what does success look like? What are the benchmarks that you’re measuring? And what are the main goals you have?
Tuma Basa 12:52
Very good question. Actually. That’s actually the beginning of the year, I put that in my notebook at the top. This we’re hearing that I don’t want someone take a screen grab proprietary information, but I’ll give the summary. Is it measuring success is that the culture is that YouTube is synonymous with culture, right? You don’t look at it as two things. It’s like the destination that what we just talked about with monetization with education, and so that people understand it, benefit from it, even inadvertently, thing is moments that the moments are live, they live on YouTube, the moments that exist on even on other platforms that they originate on YouTube, in terms of like, with black culture, is that our dopiness is unanimously understood that I don’t even know if I’m using the word unanimously. That’s like a no brainer. It’s obvious. You know, let me sort of say, it’s obvious. It’s like when you watch a marathon, you see Kenyans winning, right? You’re like, you’re not shocked. You’re not like, oh, wow, can you? You know, it’s like, Oh, yes. Yeah, that’s how, if that’s, I feel success, it hasn’t always been obvious. It was always obvious to us, but it wasn’t always obvious to the rest of the world. Like, how dope are the many cultures that that make up what we’re calling black culture for simplification? You know, what I mean? How dope they are, that, that we don’t, you don’t have to be part of it to understand that. Or, you know, I mean, and yeah, so so. So that’s, that’s the quality part, you know, most of his quality, you know, but that’s what success looks like, to me, if all those things are easy, you know, in YouTube is the easy destination for, you know, to achieve those things, whether it be from a consumer perspective, from an industry perspective, from an artist perspective, from ad spender perspective, you know, I mean, the subscriber, you know, that they’re pleased, like, yeah, you know.
Dan Runcie 14:50
Yeah, and I think for you, you’re most likely working with creators with artists that have their stuff on a number of platforms and just like the menu then you’ve gotten to know personally and they may feel like okay, I’m already stretched thin, I am trying to spread myself Tik Tok is blowing up or all these other things are blowing up, do you have a pitch to them about, okay? This is why you should spend more time in YouTube or this is why you should have a bit more focus or how you should think about YouTube, maybe relative to some of the other places that you may put your stuff out on.
Tuma Basa 15:23
So I don’t have a pitch, right? I work with a lot of people who work like with a lot of different creators and stuff like that. And, and even before I got YouTube, YouTube was made already it was like already, you know, I mean, like, its impact was already proven right? Even before I got to YouTube. So at the stage, we will talk my brand maturity before we started off camera and stuff. At the stage, and Youtube people already understood that. So the conversations are more informational, right? Where they’re asking very specific questions, because almost everyone uses YouTube, like, at least in our world, right? Uses you to and or the artists have accounts or labels managers or etc. So usually the questions are really, really are the conversations are topical, it’s about a new feature. It’s about them pitching us sometimes, like we get pitched you know, wouldn’t listen to albums. And this and the talking about possible marketing or co- marketing the talking about. I don’t know, there’s so many things I don’t know, that’s hard. But now I don’t find myself having to pitch YouTube is like the the OG of platforms, you know, and there’s also staple, you know, it’s like, there’s a lot of these quote unquote, apps or websites that don’t last don’t have the, you know, the longevity that YouTube has already had. So the nature of the conversations aren’t, they’re not like pitchy, we’re not like pitching them. Like, you know, yeah.
Dan Runcie 16:47
That’s a good point. I mean, it’s the second largest search engine, and it got that title for a reason, impacted everything.
Tuma Basa 16:55
By the way, I use YouTube a lot. And I’m not saying that just because I’ve worked. So when I use YouTube a lot, I feel like I won. I learned also about the platform, and I’m getting paid to you know, what did Biggie say? I’m not only the. No, no, no, no, that doesn’t doesn’t apply here. Wait, what was the quote though? No, it was about that Ari Melber moment. You know, I mean, always quotes, songs, etc, etc. So I had a, you know, I’m not only the client, I’m the player president didn’t like. You what I mean? Yeah. So he was like, I’m not only the client, like, yeah, so, but it doesn’t apply. I’m not I’m not that, you know, I mean.
Dan Runcie 17:31
No, I mean, you almost pulled it off, though. You almost got it.
Tuma Basa 17:35
It was it was top of mind but didn’t when I you know, when your filter evaluates: Oh, no, this the this is a different parallel.
Dan Runcie 17:42
Right. Right. Right. It’s funny on that note, I will give Ari Melber credit on that, because I think he’s able to the way he raised it sometimes like I’m just like. Damn! That was like, like you had that ready, like, Oh, yeah.
Tuma Basa 17:54
I saw J. Cole, one yesterday. And it wasn’t literal. I was like, this is like, kkay, now he’s taking it to like algebra, or it’s not like, literally on. He’s talking about Supreme Court Justice, domination or something. I was like, wow, okay. He came to our hip hop History Month event. Oh, that’s dope. Yeah, we did that hip hop history month for November. And he came through like, photo ops with him and Slick Rick or DJ Premier, like, you know, he was there and everything.
Dan Runcie 18:21
That’s what’s up. That’s good to hear. With YouTube. It’s hard to talk about YouTube, especially with black music without talking about one of the biggest stars on it NBA YoungBoy. And I know, he’s been one of the poster artists that have shown what is possible. And from your perspective, what do you think that he’s doing that others aren’t necessarily doing, which has given him the amount of success that he’s had?
Tuma Basa 18:46
Consistency. Youngboy what he does, he’s from my observation, I’m just speaking from just from my observation, my point of view is he’s regular about new content, like very regular, and it’s always trends. Always trends. Sometimes if I’m on the treadmill, I’ll go put on a playlist or the next day I’ll put on the trending just to see what’s going on etc, etc. It will be like YoungBoy heart and soul, YoungBoy, I’ll get a walk. YoungBoy, he morasca But my gosh, this guy’s prolific right and so what happens is his relationship with his fans he’s saying and by the way is doing all this with the limitations of the law that are constrained his ability to move right. So that which impresses me because I say Oh, this is work ethic. He’s saying and what happens is I that my the previous job, I play listed no smoke no smoke, because DJ chill actually untouchable even because I’m Jeff Vaughn and my carrot and then it was the same to them at the time and APG and then but no smoke I remember. DJ chose produced that and chose we play listed some stuff but chose so it chose even flew in from Houston. Like literally, right? Play his music and all that stuff. So the other thing that I’ve noticed, at least when I see the social media talk, people forget how long YoungBoy has been grinding. Like this did not happen overnight. Like he’s been consistently building. You know, I talked to his manager, Alex, Alex will let you know like, this guy this and then you’ll send this and let me. Oh, did you see this? etc, etc, etc. And like oh wow, like they’re constantly like a production mode, you know what I mean? It’s like, it’s like production mode. And then when you watch the videos, you get a glimpse into his life and my niece like she’s like, YoungBoy, like don’t say not to say nothing like YoungBoy, like, you know, so what happens is this, so he’s also like, built this connection with his fans, whether they’re rooting for him you seen in social media comments, YoungBoy better, or you know what I mean? Why be better, etc, etc, etc. At like, wow, this is fandom, right? This is fandom is almost Kpop level fandom, you know, I’m saying in terms of like the guests, we see it with Nicki Minaj and her fans Barbies. The girl Barbie, Wizkid FC. I don’t know. Are you familiar with Wizkid FC? No, oh my gosh, I got on. Oh, my gosh, those are his fans. And they go hard, like heart. So young boy, constantly keeping the algorithm warm. And there’s some saying like, just like the same week, people wrap on beats in the floating lung, on the thing, etc, etc, etc. So even the kittens, the uploads in the in his library and Alex Thompson stuff that I never heard of, for another argument, it was safe, because I don’t want somebody to try this because of stuff that his fans do on YouTube. This actually behavior on YouTube, that I’d never heard of another artist ever, ever, like ever. Never did. Yeah, by me. I’m not gonna repeat it because I want somebody to try it. You know, I mean, but…
Dan Runcie 21:56
Yeah, It’s impressive. I’ve always compared his strategy to not surprisingly much more of a YouTuber, than a hip hop artists in some ways, like, existence, it like reminds me of how Mr. Beast or someone like that is like: Okay, this is what I’m going to give you. These are what the fans in the audience want. And he’s prolific in a way from that perspective.
Tuma Basa 22:20
So I want to challenge you on that part. Artists do that, right, but not to undercount how he understands his audience as well.You know what I’m saying. There are artists who operate in that way and make an or YouTube first in terms of the way the platform something that something like: Oh, you asked me, we said labels, something I say the labels is, is I like talking about, I wouldn’t name the name of the artist but, but what that person does is they have different incarnations of of their song, right, they’ll drop an art track, and then they’ll do a lyric video, then they’ll do a visualizer, then they’ll do a trailer for their premium music video, then they’ll drop the premium music video, then they’ll drop the behind the scenes, then they’ll drop maybe fan created because now the song has gained popularity. So there’s like this management of the shelf life of a song you see, I’m saying it’s allowing it to kind of build in Germany, etc, etc. So there’s a lot of artists that do stuff. So I just want to take away the YoungBoy’s credit like that he’s actually making music that really connects and his vulnerabilities in some of the songs or his aggression, and some of the songs really connects with artists exequatur the generation. It’s like a specific generation, and will time will look back and will be impressed. We’re living in it right now. You know, and also, we may be in a generation that is kind of like has a different canon of music that we’re you know, yeah, it’s a rotation, you know.
Dan Runcie 23:52
No, I think that’s a fair point. And I didn’t mean necessarily to like discredit what he’s doing. But yeah, no, no, I really didn’t. I didn’t have to clear it up. For sure.
Tuma Basa 24:01
I’d have to clear it up, though. You know, yeah.
Dan Runcie 24:03
Because I think that the piece of that was stuck out to me is like how like, and I think a lot of artists do. It’s like, how it’s like music videos. It’s like, the formula that he’s figured out like, this is what the audience wants. He keeps it low budget, he’s able to like but make it still be engaging and creative in that type of way. It pulls in so many elements of things I’ve seen academized. Like, okay, like how someone in entertainment for instance, like I was actually I was just talking to Kev on stage about this house like, Hey, this is a budget but we know how to make this work and maximize it beyond what it needs to and I mean, even see Tyler Perry doing some stuff like that, as well with how he manages his budget. It’s really, I think, thoughtful and yeah, that’s why I like what piqued me to him. I remember I was researching him for an article I’d done and I looked up how many videos I was like, Okay, how many videos has he done? It was like 350 plus, just like a short number of years like that takes dedication.
Tuma Basa 24:57
And also, you know his label Atlantic records, right? Atlantic recording Corporation right now they have a lot of successes on YouTube like Craig, Julie Kaiser, Bluey Robinson, all them. I’ll name the whole step. Angelique. What happens is they have a lot of successes, whether it be Cardi B, Kodak Black. Who else is on Bruno Mars, they really take YouTube seriously. And Burna Boy, oh my gosh, I have CK, the love amount was so huge. Yeah, right. But what happens is, they know when to step in, when to leave it alone. When to you know what I mean? they have that they have that cadence as well, like with their artists with the songs, you know what to go hard impact, etc, etc. So and then that’s just from my own relationships and discussions.
Dan Runcie 25:45
That’s what’s up. I think that’s one of the cool things that we see about just streaming in general, how artists have taken that opportunity to be like: Hey, no, this is a different era. And I’m not going to try to do things the way that we would have done in the streaming era. And obviously, we see hip hop artists, black artists are more likely to push on that front. And one of the things that always stuck out to me about this era, and he just talked about it too, is you can release your album and then just given the fact that it is digital, you can change it. You can adapt it over time. We saw Kanye do this when Life of Pablo came out and even more recently, we kind of saw it. Yeah. We kind of saw it with CLB and Donda. What is your thought on that? Because I think that that is something that a lot of people thought was going to take off at that point. But it still only happened every once in a while.
Tuma Basa 26:36
Yeah, so with playlisting or creation is one of the benefits or advantages is you’re able to tweak something if something’s not working, or you thought of something after so they’re not static, you notice him saying. Radios like this every week, when they’re doing their ads and the drops, MTV, BET, you know, I mean, when we had our heavy rotation, medium rotation, like rotation mixtape, Big Show or whatever, right, you can go in there, etc, etc. So the technology allows you to tweak now, you know, I mean, technology actually even allows you to go do a remastered or redo I think, Brittany…Taylor Swift.
Dan Runcie 27:15
Tuma Basa 27:19
You don’t read did a whole? So that ability to make something non-static? I don’t know if the dynamic? Yeah, I mean, so these bodies of work are now dynamic. Because if there’s no taboo to go in there and add a few records and call it a deluxe, you know what I mean, sort of saying remixes will never even exist in this physical era and the physical era, you know, it was like, oh, yeah, that was on the Jesus lyrics soundtrack. That wasn’t on the album, we have that luxury, not because of technology. Yeah, we have to give technology credit words do like these tech guys are smart.
Dan Runcie 27:52
Yeah. It’s funny, because we both have heard plenty of criticisms about the streaming era, and a lot of them do have their merit. That’s why they have traction, but people often ignore where things have gotten better, right? And I think they often ignore challenges that may have existed in past eras. Because I think one of the things I often hear is like: Okay, well, you have all these albums that are just bloated with 20 plus track albums are just to try to drive up the streams. And my response normally is like that, yes, that’s true. That is a strategy. But are you forgetting the CD era, and how people would stuff these double albums, when there really wasn’t always worth having a double album, or, you know, all of the filler that was just trying to sell you a 20 track album, when a lot of those songs weren’t always worthwhile, like, there was a lot of fat to trim in the CD era too.
Tuma Basa 28:45
Or don’t add a bullshit DVD to make you feel like you know, me spend the money. No, I said, well, at the same time, you’re 100% right. At the same time, we have to be conscious things are gonna change the always change, right? So we also have to be conscious that we don’t lose certain kind of cultural aspects like right meaning like that type album, that body of work that solid, like no skips track one to track nine or, or there was an album that had the A side and the B side, you know what I mean? Like, the A side felt different from you remember boys to men back in the day Adagio and Allegro. It’s like, you turn the cassette in, this is the fast songs and this was the slow songs, etc. So the thing is this so also, we don’t want to get swallowed by technology, so that when we move it to the next things, certain rights or cultural rights, RITES, get lost or in I mean, evaporate, you know, or fall between the cracks, etc, etc. So when it comes to those criticisms, I also listen while we come in, as humans are pushing for that balance, you know, is continued to tell that story. Why is it I just saw the most interesting video, right? It was talking about legacy design. Okay, no, no, no, it’s gonna take me too long to remember it.
Dan Runcie 30:07
You brought up something I know, I’ve thought a lot about the whole aspect of classics, because that’s something that people feel is not necessarily harder to pull off. But they feel like there’s less incentive to release that type of revered work the same way that we can talk about the hip hop albums that are either, you know, the certified classics or the debatable classics too. But a lot of people feel like there hasn’t been as many recent albums to be in that discussion. I mean, I would have some pushback on that. But I know that that notion and thought is out there. Let’s take a quick break to hear a word from this week’s sponsor.
Tuma Basa 30:43
I love watching people who are passionate about sports, talk about sports, and this is why I love that is they’ll go back and they’ll make references to way before they were born. Right? Whether it be Tom Babe Ruth, or, you know, mean, or Willie Mays or whatever. So what happens is, then that’s just baseball, that that tradition, that continuity issue, saying that we have some sorts of standards that what we can compare things of the past, you see, I’m saying, so that’s why for me, I’m big on generation transfer. My dad is the reason why I even work, he loved music so much, he played so much of it, and then somehow it rubbed off on to me, he’s saying, and then I want to do the same to other generations, etc. It’s like, okay, this is what was really good, don’t let this disappear, etc, here, you know. So that’s why those things to me are just important to like, even though the concept of an album is important, because gives us a standard to compare to what before, and then also gives us incentive, us artists incentive gives artists, especially in producers, to make timeless music, Evergreen standards, right? So that even when the night hear that their art, or their music still lives on, you said that they may not physically be around, but their music lives on. So so if we don’t have those standards, to kind of push people to have quality, we might have a forgotten era, this might be considered the dark era of music, you know, or like the steroids era of baseball, or you know what I mean? Where it’s like, asterisk give good, that that time they won’t really make good music. Oh, there was the Great Depression of music in terms of how we’re remembered or how our musical contributions remember. So yeah, so I like to come in, it’s actually good to keep you on the toes like that, you know.
Dan Runcie 32:36
Yeah, the steroid era of baseball is a interesting comparison with this, because I’ve always been one that looked at that era as, hey, that was the landscape. It’s unfortunate that a lot of that happened. But I’m not here for, you know, a ratio of, you know, all the things that did happen. And I would hope that people look at this current era that we’re in now, not, you know.
Tuma Basa 33:00
No, no, we’re not, we’re not there yet. No, we’re not there. I’m just saying it can happen. You know, one of the professor when I was in class, is to say, the reason we learn history because no empire is immortal, you know, is that you learn history to figure out how to prolong mortality is you knowwhat I’m saying? In terms of what you’re working on, or staying alive, basically, you know, I mean, so we’re not there, like, we’re not there. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be there to be arrogance to think that: Oh, no, never happen to us, you know, I mean, etc, etc, etc. You know.
Dan Runcie 33:32
So what do we do? We’re not necessarily like we collected it, but I guess collectively, yeah, as an industry, like, what do we do to make sure that doesn’t happen?
Tuma Basa 33:40
It’s we push for balance. So we reward you know, instead of that chasing numbers, and being an ambulance chaser and you know, is integrity or terms of like being real with ourselves, like, that was good, or that was trash, but it’s popular. It is what it is, it gets treated like trash that’s popular, you know, I mean, and I’m not dissing any thing, but it’s this is a reality is when you can still have that honest evaluation, you know what I mean? Qualitative not quantitative. We’re not talking about numbers you have that say: Hey, wow, like otherwise we may get pushed to that if we don’t do it, we might get pushed to that like, we might get forced to landscape where the eliminates the weakest, you know.
Dan Runcie 34:23
Yeah, the numbers thing is real. And I know that as someone that writes and covers a lot of this space I do sharon, you know, obviously analyze the space so there’s context but I do think back to especially when you think back to like the rap albums that stick out the most the example I often think about is okay, look at the blueprint, right?Obviously, you know, there were many things that happened that week that may have been Yeah, that day. There are many things that happened that day 911 That hurt at sales, but I’ve never heard anyone at that time be like oh well God rules pain is love sold just as much or around the same as blueprints. So you know, was Jay-Z really all that like you just never heard anyone say that because that’s just not how people talk or think about it. But it’s interesting because I feel like so much of the narrative leading up to like, let’s say like CLB and Dondo was so much around like numbers this this this and yeah.
Tuma Basa 35:15
That goes back to like the tiny versus 50 remember for sales they won’t want to six and park looking at each other and you know, TRL two I didn’t know.
Dan Runcie 35:25
Yeah, I think they were on both of Yeah, but the one was
Tuma Basa 35:29
like to do showdown
Dan Runcie 35:31
instead of Rolling Stone cover. Yeah.
Tuma Basa 35:33
And I think I think was for fun. But it became part of the culture where everybody was like, it’s almost like the movies movies did it first with Box Office, you know, I mean, we can box office, etc. Actually in sports that happens a lot of sports with the AP college football poles or you know, what I mean?
Dan Runcie 35:49
So yeah, with Box Office too it’s an interesting thing because I feel like I like one of the biggest movies of all time, Avatar, technically, I’ve never had a conversation about that movie since that movie came out. And that is one of the top five, or it was the best selling movie ever when it came out. You know, so.
Tuma Basa 36:06
So for me Laz Alonso was in that movie, right? And I used to work with last at BET. This is like the early 2000s. And I remember when he left to LA to go become an actor, right? I remember that he had been in a disappearing act. Terry McMillan did a movie that was like HBO movie with Terry McMillan, the author. And he was like the moving guy. And then we’re like, wow, Lazarus in a movie, right? And he literally quit his job and moved to LA to become an actor. And he did it. So when he did that, I was like: Oh my gosh, like, this is my avatar. I don’t even know what Avatar is about. Because he was you couldn’t even see him. He was like one of the like, and then I remember seeing him at a party. And I was like, Oh, I didn’t want to go say hi. Because he will remember me. Like it’s from the days of like, when he was like, like grinding and stuff, etc. For me Avatar, sorry to go off topic. But it was just it was just inspiring. Because I was like, wow, somebody who I worked with in my younger days. And he went out there. And he said, I remember him saying I remember having a conversation with him like: Oh, I’m going to LA I’m gonna go do this acting thing. Like what I was like, oh, and he did it.
Dan Runcie 36:10
And that’s powerful, too. I did a movie like that. So many people saw you got James Cameron behind you. I mean…
Tuma Basa 37:20
Yeah, no, yeah, that was it. That was the point. I don’t even remember what exactly the movies right. I started in the theaters. But for those personal reasons was like, wow, like, he’s one of us. You know?
Dan Runcie 37:30
Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, that makes sense. That’s awesome. Well, no, man. It’s exciting. It’s an exciting time, I think for the industry, especially to reflect on what’s happening now and where things are going and how we’ll look back on this moment. And for you, I know so much of your role right now is forward looking. So what are the things that excite you most that are on the horizon? What are you thinking about the trends of where musics heading and how people are thinking about emerging technology in music in this era?
Tuma Basa 38:00
Like which emerging technologies?
Dan Runcie 38:02
Like web 3.0, and NFT’s, and Tokens.
Tuma Basa 38:05
Excited, I love what’s happening with NF T’s and Dao’s and in those ecosystems, and the wallets and etc, and crypto and Aetherium. And then I mean, I’m sure you saw Susan’s statements, Susan, our CEO, she made a statement. And she she called it, I really liked the words, her words were like, it’s a source of inspiration. You know what I mean? And I liked that. I was like, hey, that’s so for me. And my friend McHale More, right? McHale More he like works Jidenna and Janelle Monae and you know, etc, etc. So he, he schooled me a lot, like give me like, no mean, like, Crash Course over the phone. This is a little while back. And then ever since that day, I really, like started doing a lot of research and participating. And then YouTube, I know, for a fact like me, I can’t talk about it. But, you know, I know for a fact that this like extensive discussion and plotting and planning and you know, so I’m excited to be part of an organization that lets at least like embracing, like, not fighting resume saying, because I’ve been in organizations and I’m not gonna name those organizations, right. But who fought innovation, because in order to protect the protected pockets, like the current pockets, like you know, I mean, so I don’t like that spirit. That’s not cool spirit.
Dan Runcie 39:21
So what’s your wallet looking like? You got any board apes in there or?
Tuma Basa 39:27
No, no, no. I’m not rich. I can only but there is, uh, I can’t I can’t say it’s too early to say I can’t say this conversation will be continued. Because the thing that’s in process now, I can’t talk about it in order because of you know, I mean, not ready to be spoken publicly. That’s not even my place to be the one but, but, but this whole web three thing excites me, for Africa and for black people. You know why? Think about this talk about streaming. and web 2.0 look what it did for hip hop, look what it did for the continent, like you said, because we talk about the music because that’s what we’re in. But there’s so much other stuff that to social media etc, got popularized, that got exposure during tourism, and how people start looking at us as humans or as places as not like, what mainstream media pushes, etc. So that democratization, the level playing field, if web 2.0 did that, just imagine what web 3.0 is gonna do you know what I mean? Like, that’s what’s gonna really be a wrap, you know?
Dan Runcie 40:37
Yeah! Because so the whole focus point of this conversation, the evolution of technology brings fans and listeners together, and whenever that happens, we see these areas that the gatekeepers held back start to unlock all of the power and value that they have. So like you said.
Tuma Basa 40:56
And I’m from the gatekeeper era, you know, I mean, some gatekeepers were hate keepers, they were trying to block in sabotage, or obstruct or leave out not be inclusive and, or condescending. I saw my own eyes, like, you know, is it like so the thing is this, so the more and more stripping of that, etc, then is the more meritocracy, you know.
Dan Runcie 41:24
Definitely couldn’t agree more couldn’t agree more. Or, hey, we covered everything in this conversation. Oh, okay. This is dope. I mean, we, I mean, you definitely sparked me up with a few things. And I think we got to link a few things in the show notes too, just so everyone can you know, catch up? For sure. Make sure that you mentioned a few things for reference. But before we let you go, is there anything else that you want to plug or you want to let the tropical audience know about?
Tuma Basa 41:49
Oh, man, yeah. Do some shout outs. Shout out to Pennington, we shout out to Brittany Lewis and ADA Hopkins and Adam McFarlan and a reef in Chelsea the BCB shout out to Leo Khan shout out to Vivian Lewis shout out to Steven Brian. Oh let’s plug the black voices fun is future insiders is continuing you know what future insiders is now it’s like, oh, Wallow, Wallow will be working directly with Wallow he’s gonna be doing something very similar to future insiders model that for future insiders. It’s like second engagement. It’s like young people and you’re giving them game and teaching them about how to navigate not just YouTube but the industry, etc. We’re reaching the streets directly with no buffer no in between. And you learn about monetization or algorithms or ad sense, whatever, you know, I mean, like we’re doing these programs where it’s not just engagements, not social only knowledge exchange, and we’re demystifying YouTube and simplifying it in the language of like, you know, not corporate tech speak you know, I mean, it’s you know, in like, plain the layman’s language like you know, etc so so some of that work, but boys fun. Damn, what else can I plug my stuff blows blood was? I’ll tell you right now I’m gonna second.
Dan Runcie 43:14
While you’re pulling that out. Now, Wallow makes a lot of sense. I mean, I think million dollars worth of gaming is great. And even the content in the way that he communicates with his audience on socials. He’ll be great for that. Yeah,
Tuma Basa 43:25
I’m big fan of of million dollars worth of gaming Wallow and Gilly that big fan of that. But what happened is Wallow came and spoke to us. We have an internal series called Race to quality, internal. He spoke to us and he just blew the company away. Like literally everyone was like, wow, you know, from his perspective to some of his insights. And so that that’s how that happened. Actually, you know, it was very organic, very, very organic, and it has such a unique history. And his approach is so impressive, like so as he’s part of the movement, you know,
Dan Runcie 43:59
That’s good stuff, man. Hey, Tuma. This is great, man. Thanks again for coming out.
Tuma Basa 44:03
Thank you. Thank you, Dan. Thanks so much, Trump it all.
Dan Runcie 44:09
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