This is how Rap Genius, a web site that aims to decipher every hip-hop lyric, operates. The site was founded in 2009 by three Yale grads, Tom Lehman, PC ’06, Mahbod Moghadam, CC ’04 and Ian Zechory, TC ’06, who envisioned a Wikipedia-style forum devoted to the explicating rap songs. It uses crowdsourcing (though more effectively than the YCC safety doc) to compile interpretations for lyrics that can be upvoted or downvoted by users. Part of the site’s claim to fame is its ability to get rappers such as Nas or 50 Cent to participate. Since its founding, the site has been featured on the cover of the Yale Alumni Magazine (the article also included the phrase “lit crit, yo” which just feels embarrassing). With a recent 15 million dollar investment from the Silicon Valley venture capitalist firm Andreessen Horowitz, Rap Genius hopes to expand into education, specifically through a pilot program which will use rap to teach science in ten New York City public schools. The site, however, has not been free from controversy mostly surrounding the problematic ways that the site’s founders have dealt with issues of race. Regardless, we should definitely keep an eye on their future endeavors.
Rap Genius: hip-hop’s Wikipedia?
Have you ever wondered what Macklemore really means when he says “Imma take ya grandpa style” in the song “Thrift Shop”? Well, if you went on Rap Genius, you would find out that the lyric is actually “I’mma take your grandpa style,” which gives it a whole different (and far less disturbing) spin. According to the site’s users, “Dressing like the elderly is taking things to another level. Denoting his intention sets up the next few lines for a run-down of what grandpa clothes he would mimic.”