UPDATE: Sources tell Billboard that Basa will be joining YouTube’s staff.
One of Spotify’s most influential playlist curators has left the building. The company announced on Thursday that Tuma Basa, the global programming head of hip-hop whose RapCaviar playlist has amassed nearly 9 million followers, has decided to leave the company.
“Tuma has been an incredible asset to the RapCaviar team, and we thank him for his contributions,” the company said in a statement. “The RapCaviar team, which is rapidly expanding with boots on the ground globally, is committed to building the brand and giving its users the best hip hop experience on the platform.”
The circumstances for Basa’s sudden departure, as well as his future plans, were not disclosed. Spotify paired the news of Basa’s exit with an announcement of new tour dates for its “RapCaviar Live” tour. The company also said it will be expanding the RapCaviar brand globally to include local curators “in an effort to highlight the power of different genres within the hip hop landscape.”
Basa, a former programmer for Revolt, MTV and BET, joined Spotify in the spring of 2015. As custodian of Spotify’s top genre-specific playlist (Today’s Top Hits has 19 million followers, but covers more ground), Basa and his team have played an outsized role in helping to break new artists, including Desiigner and Cardi B, but he has bristled at the “gatekeeper” label often assigned to curators.
“I don’t want to be called that,” he told Billboard last year. “I feel like the gatekeeper era is over. The gatekeeper era is the past, when magazine editors, A&Rs, program directors, they all could determine people’s lives and everything. I consider myself a facilitator. My job is not a bouncer to keep people out or to kick people out, it’s to get people in. It’s to get the right people in and to keep the party popping.”
Basa’s exit comes a day after Spotify officially filed paperwork for a public offering with the Security and Exchanges Commission. The music streaming service will trade under the symbol “SPOT” at the New York Stock Exchange.