The founders of the polarising rap lyrics website Rap Genius were guests on this week’s Combat Jack radio show, with producer extraordinaire Just Blaze and the opinionated blogger Dallas Penn. The crew (Mahbod Moghadam, Tom Lehman, Ilan Zechory) recently received a staggering $15m investment from Californian venture capitalists Andreessen Horowitz and whilst their vision is exciting, Rap Genius’ rise has been somewhat controversial in the industry, where questions continue to be asked about their credentials and tactics.
To put it more simply, they’ve pissed off a lot of people.
In the extended Combat interview Rap Genius’ founders discussed their Internet beef with Dallas (who Mahbod thought was a rapper) and various other ”90s” bloggers, as well as Rap Genius’ origins (Killa Cam and a pile of weed) and it’s role in the hip hop community. They try to shine light on alleged racist comments made by the site’s moderators and try to reach out to some of the purists they’ve alienated, arguing that they need help to improve the “baby” that is their site.
It gets a bit heated at one point, as Dallas says he sees Rap Genius “Fucky-bergs” as tourists on a sort of “ghetto safari” and on the other hand the Rap Genius crew protest against their status as outsiders. Nonetheless, there’s some good discussion here about hip hop writing and culture, and everyone ends up shaking hands. What do you think, do Rap Genius care about the culture? Are they geniuses or something much less?
Skip to the 1:10:00 mark to listen: