RapCaviar, the popular and influential Spotify playlist that boasts more than 14 million followers, is adding a video podcast to its brand offerings. Hosted by Brandon “Jinx” Jenkins, it launches Aug. 4 and comes on the heels of the announcement that a Hulu docuseries, “RapCaviar Presents,” is also in the works.
Promising “to settle long-standing debates” via barbershop-like chatter, the podcast will host guests including artists, producers, label executives, writers and critics. Initial bookings include Justice Baiden (co-founder and head of A&R, LVRN) radio personality Bootleg Kev, Trent Clark (TMZ Hip Hop), writer Rembert Browne and Netflix content executive Jasmyn Lawson.
Carl Chery, who curates the RapCaviar playlist and serves as creative director and head of Urban music at Spotify, spoke to Variety about plans for the pod.
RapCaviar has played such a vital role in blowing up hip-hop songs. Where do you view its role in the music industry?
It’s transitioning into having more of a voice in the culture, in addition to simply playlisting songs and supporting artists as a streaming service. You’ve seen some of it through our social channels. About a year and a half ago, we partnered with an agency to really rev up the socials and start sparking conversations.
You see it last year with what we did with the Mount Rushmore of rap. You see it today with the creative we did with the “Feelin’ Myself” (playlist) where we did this anime-style illustration with 10 of the most important female rappers right now. We want to be a part of the conversation — of what’s already happening, but also starting the conversion.
When did you come up with the idea for a video podcast and explain how it works?
I always had the opinion that a playlist is not enough. You look at other outlets that were important throughout hip-hop history, whether it’s XXL or the blog era, there’s always context. They were able to contextualize whatever they’d present to you. It’s different when you go on RapCaviar, you see the songs and that’s it. It’s important to us to create these different channels where we can add context and speak to what’s important to us and the culture.
I had conversations with a few people internally at least two years ago. Shout out to all the people in the studio teams, and Dawn Ostroff [Spotify’s chief content and advertising business officer], she was a big supporter in making sure the podcast got off the ground.
One of the things that came up was whether or not I’d be the host. Obviously, I don’t have the time. [Laughs] So that’s where the idea of getting Jinx to be the host of the RapCaviar podcast came up. The brand’s important to us, so we wanted to make sure we had one of the best rap conversationists in the business.
We looked at what’s out there, and in terms of podcasting in the hip hop space, there are some debates. We saw it with “Everyday Struggle” and what Joe Budden is doing where [conversations] naturally turned into debates. We felt Spotify could put a sting on what hip-hop debates are like — have more specific topics, really make it more about the music and culture instead of focusing on the juicy sensational stuff, which has been front-and-center the last few years.
Where will the pod record?
It’s taped in the L.A. studios. Jinx is still living in New York, but he’s going to commute and record the episodes. We’re still figuring out how we’re going to handle recording whenever opportunities presents themselves elsewhere. For example, we have the first few episodes already in the books because we had a few sessions in L.A. The first episode is with myself, Justice from LVRN, and Hakeem who’s the host for OurGenerationMusic. We talked about who’s the next Big 3 — who’s the next version of Cole, Kendrick, and Drake?
As for why a video podcast? When we’re having spirited conversation, it’s something that should be seen. It’s one thing to hear someone and you can hear the passion, but when you see the first episode and you see Justice get animated when he says certain things, that’s something that was critical for us to show as well.
Will songs from the playlist be used or played in the podcast?
So far, none. I’m sure there will be instances where we talk about a specific song and we’ll play that song. We did get a custom theme track from the producer JetsonMade, and are super excited about that. We felt it was important to include someone that the community’s familiar with instead of just getting an instrumental from beats.
How does the content of the podcast compare to the Hulu docuseries?
The podcast is going to be centered around conversations. I talked about the Big 3 episode, one of the conversations we had was about who’s on the Mount Rushmore of the early 2000s. We had a conversation about Kendrick’s albums, where panelists — Trent Clark from TMZ Hip Hop, Aaron Smarter from Uproxx, and Letty [Peniche] from Power 106 all debated what Kendrick‘s top albums are.
The Hulu docuseries is more about storytelling. Every episode centers around one character, and we’re telling a story that speaks to what’s happening in hip-hop at large. I don’t want to spoil the pod, but the first episode is about Tyler the Creator. When you watch it, it’ll be his story, but there’s going to be something that also reflects on what’s happening in hip-hop culturally.
What are some of your favorite podcasts?[Spotify’s] The Ringer makes phenomenal content. I’m obsessed with “The Rewatchables.” It’s basically a different cast every episode, they go back and talk about a classic movie and how it’s aged. They give you the context of the movie, the stars and where they were at the time. If applicable, they talk about what the climate was in the movie business at the time. If the movie was transformative, they contextualize that. They keep bringing up actors in other movies. I also love what Gillie and Wallo are doing with “Million Dollaz Worth of Game.” But I do think that the podcast will have a huge space. I don’t think anyone’s doing what we’re doing right now.
Listen to a preview of the RapCaviar podcast below: