A conversation on style & music

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A conversation on style & music

Julia DiGiacomo, [email protected]

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Spotify hip-hop curator Tuma Basa and brand strategist Courtney Rhodes highlighted their personal journeys and dispensed some advice to students looking to follow in their footsteps on Feb. 23 in a conversation about music and style.

The conversation was part of the Black in Business Series, which is coordinated by the Tippie College of Business and the Center for Diversity and Enrichment.

As global programming head of hip-hop for Spotify, Basa curates the influential and popular RapCaviar playlist. He is also responsible for all of Spotify’s hip-hop programming. In the past, he spent many years in music programming at MTV and BET.

Describing himself as an “avid Hawkeye fan,” Basa said he spent his childhood in the Iowa City and Coralville area. He moved to Zimbabwe at age 13, then returned to the U.S. to attend the University of Iowa.

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Basa had some sage advice for those seeking exposure.

“Build an audience. A lot of people look at platforms or exposure to media as shortcuts, which is a myth,” he said. “You build an audience, and that audience will follow you and pop out. Do the groundwork, and keep on keeping on.”

Rhodes is a brand, style, and marketing strategist who launched her brand-marketing consulting firm, Urbanity Communications, in 2011. Her book, *Make Your Mark: Personal Branding through “On-Purpose” Living*, teaches young professionals how to market themselves.

She is also involved with the fashion industry through her work with various brands, and she describes her personal style as a creative outlet.

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“It’s interesting that [Basa and I] almost do opposites. He creates the content, which is what’s going to bring you to Spotify,” she said. “But then, brands have to figure out how to speak to that audience they’ve already created.”

As a brand strategist, Rhodes said, she must get a good idea of the story of a brand in order to create content from an advertising/marketing standpoint that excites people.

“Today, your career is all about what value you can bring to a company or organization,” Rhodes said. “If you can do something, and it’s valuable, and you know how to package that and communicate it and express it, you’re ahead of the curve.”

Tevin Robbins, the assistant director of student leadership development at the Tippie College of Business, said Basa visited a couple UI classes on Feb. 23.

“Tuma has been to two classes already today,” he said. “Courtney did a breakout session with just women of color interested in business and entrepreneurship in the Tippie College of Business.”

Rhodes had some advice for aspiring professionals.

“I suggest that you get really good at something, and then get as much experience as you can in that field or in that industry,” she said. “Then put yourself around people — your professors, mentors, people in the community — who will help to guide and direct you.”