SPOTIFY IN-HOUSE, New York / SPOTIFY / 2019
In 2017, hip-hop/urban music became the most streamed genre on Spotify. To recognize this cultural moment, we transformed our most popular playlist - RapCaviar - into a lifestyle brand. This meant a regular program of activations across multiple platforms, including the induction of our first three rappers into the RapCaviar Pantheon.
By 2019, hip-hop had strengthened its hold on culture - and the RapCaviar playlist had grown to over 11 million followers. By December 2018, fans and artists alike had started to wonder when the next new icons would be admitted into the Pantheon.
So the brief became how to disrupt culture once again, by finding a breakthrough way to celebrating the rappers that are defining culture now.
In 2019, we used a combination of data and curation to select four artists: Cardi B, Jaden Smith, Gunna, and Juice WRLD, all of whom had set new records the year before. We sculpted them into real-world statues, and exhibited them at the Brooklyn Museum.
The statues referenced classic mythology, placing them in an art-historical context, while taking the form of reflective chrome - an allusion to the Afro-Futurist movement that informed some of 2018’s most popular culture, including Black Panther.
Popular music is pop culture - but that doesn’t mean it’s not art. While hip-hop has recently become the most popular and relevant music in the US, that hasn’t always translated to respect from “cultural authorities” or the mainstream.
Our strategy was to point to this tension in a way that placed the artists on a pedestal, and at the heart of a recognized cultural authority. So we partnered with the Brooklyn Museum and approached the artists most relevant to youth culture at this moment. By choosing the artists currently driving billions of streams, rather than “household names”, we aimed to make their tribute in the museum as culturally resonant as possible.
The focus was on craft and spectacle - with the strategy to drive greater reach through social amplification.
We started the sculpture process months before the launch. The artists were scanned and 3-D sculpted into four larger-than-life statues.
The campaign launched on April 2, 2019, with the official announcement of the four artists who would be immortalized as statues. Hip-hop fans were targeted through social channels to experience the sculpture-making process, in a film directed by the Grammy-nominated Ibra Ake.
On the same day, the artists themselves celebrated with their social communities, with their own tribute videos - also created by Ibra Ake.
The opening party at the Brooklyn Museum was attended by the artists, hundreds of influencers, and senior members of the hip-hop community, including
The sculptures were then made viewable to the public for the next five days, in an exhibition promoted by wild posting and high-impact billboard throughout New York City.
The passion and size of the artist’s audiences, combined with the unprecedented nature of the tribute, created a cultural moment that cemented RapCaviar’s relevance.
The RapCaviar Pantheon videos were shared by all four artists, driving 13 million+ unpaid Instagram views alone. Spotify’s hero film drove another 12 million+ views.
The launch event resulted in 61+ million measurable impressions with our core audience. The five-day exhibition attracted 15,000+ physical attendees, resulting in significant social amplification.
After another successful installment, the RapCaviar Pantheon looks forward to celebrating its next inductees.