|Foundation date||Brooklyn, New York City
|Headquarters||Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City|
|Key people||Mahbod Moghadam
|Services||Lyrics, music criticism, music journalism|
|Slogan(s)||If you don't know, now you know|
|Alexa rank||1,791 (March 2014)|
|Type of site||Music blog|
|Registration||required to edit|
Rap Genius is a website dedicated to the annotation and interpretation of lyrics, primary source documents, poetry, and other forms of text. The site relies on user-generated content through a wiki-like format of contribution, where contributors earn "IQ" points for interesting annotations.
Rap Genius was created in October 2009 by founders Mahbod Moghadam, Tom Lehman, and Ilan Zechory, who met during their undergraduate years at Yale University. Lehman and Moghadam came up with the idea for the site in the summer of 2009 when Lehman asked Moghadam about the meaning of a Cam'ron lyric. After Lehman built the earliest version of the site, Moghadam, a 2008 graduate of Stanford Law School and a first year employee at Dewey and LeBoeuf who was on a paid sabattical leave, decided to pursue the idea full-time. Lehman, the programmer of the site, and Zechory soon joined him and brought the idea to fruition. Originally named Rap Exegesis, the site changed its name in December 2009 to Rap Genius because "exegesis" was difficult for users to spell. The ability to listen to the songs while viewing their lyrics, the Rap Map, and Music Video annotations were eventually added to the site as well.
In October 2013, Rap Genius was one of fifty sites targeted with notices by the National Music Publishers Association for the unlicensed online publication of song lyrics; most of the sites that were targeted were ad supported. In response, Zechory stated that they "can't wait to have a conversation with them about how all writers can participate in and benefit from the Rap Genius knowledge project."
Google search penalty
In December 2013, Google penalized Rap Genius by removing them from its top search results. Even for the search query of "rap genius", results from rapgenius.com did not appear on the top results. Instead, the top results showed Rap Genius' Twitter, Facebook, and Wikipedia pages, as well as news related to the penalty. This happened after blogger and Rap Genius contributor John Marbach exposed its link scheme to manipulate Google search results, by offering Tweets or Facebook shares, in exchange for linking to Rap Genius with keyword rich texts. Rap Genius posted an apology, promising to stop and reverse the practice. Rap Genius also pointed out that its competitors were doing similar or worse practices, and asked Google to look at "the whole lyrics search landscape" and improve its lyric search results.
10 days later, after removing links in violation of Google's Quality Guidelines, Rap Genius partially recovered from their penalty.  In fact, some opinions discussed how well the penalty process served Rap Genius' Search Engine authority, as the aftermath showed dozens of fresh incoming links from online magazines and a rise in people searching Rap Genius in Google. 
On Rap Genius, users can listen to songs, read their lyrics, and click the lines that interest them for pop-up annotations (The lines with annotations are orange). The site's content is user-generated. Contribution is easy because "anyone can create an account and start annotating rap" simply by highlighting lyrics and filling in the pop-up annotations. Registered members with an account can upload, correct, and annotate lyrics. They can also offer suggestions to improve already published lyrics and annotations. Editors and Moderators help to generate and monitor content to ensure quality writing. Users earn "Rap IQ" with every published annotation. Points are rewarded on the basis of not only the quantity of lyrics annotated, but also the quality of the annotations. Users are rewarded with greater editorial and moderating privileges as more Rap IQ points are awarded.
||This article may contain promotional material and other spam. (December 2013)|
Contributors to Rap Genius receive points, "Rap IQ" for annotations and suggestions. The Rap IQ system employs both direct point, for example a 10 IQ point increase for an annotation, and a thumbs system. Especially insightful and popular annotations gain positive "thumbs up" reviews, increasing the IQ worth of an annotation. As of now, IQ has no redemption purpose, but serves as measure of a contributor's impact and work on the site. Editors and Moderators gain additional means of obtaining IQ, including publishing completed songs and reviewing the work of others.
The Rap Genius Blog covers features on specific artists and/or albums as well as the analysis of popular hip-hop memes, phenomenons and trends. Examples of artists that have been covered in the blog are Eminem, Tyler the Creator, Lil B "the BasedGod," Lupe Fiasco, Jay-Z, Wiz Khalifa, Lil Wayne, XV, Hopsin, and Fabolous. The posts vary in style and length and are authored by various contributors, including the founders themselves.
The Rap Map, the brainchild of early Rap Genius partner Dan Berger, utilizes Google Earth to show places that are mentioned in rap lyrics, referencing their exact geographical locations. It utilizes the same pop-up annotation format as lyrics on the site. Users can add places to the Rap Map, forming an augmented Earth view with relevant rap locations visible. Places that shown on the Rap Map include 2Pac's elementary school, T.I.'s mansion, and Notorious B.I.G's and Lil Wayne's childhood homes.
Rap Genius also annotates various music videos. The video is played on the left side of the screen, while the annotations flash on the right side of the screen. The system allows listener to connect the annotated lyrics with a video, increasing understanding of the song. As of June 2012 Rap Genius has over 60 Video Breakdowns
Lines of the Week
Lines of the Week is a popular weekly syndicated feature written by Rap Genius that appears in numerous blogs, though it doesn't appear on the site itself. It consists of the top five rap lines of the previous week, with annotations.
Outside the Lines With Rap Genius is a podcast hosted by the site's Editor-in-Chief, Shawn Setaro. It started in spring 2012 and features a weekly in-depth conversation with a rapper or rap-related figure. So far, the guests have included RZA, Jean Grae, Soul Khan, Kool Keith, Invincible, Pharoahe Monch, Nas, and more. After only three episodes, it was already voted the fifth-best music podcast by Paste Magazine.
Press coverage and reception
The site has been featured on numerous blogs and websites, including the Huffington Post, AOL News, and Above the Law. Initial reception to the site has been mostly positive. Nick Antosca of the Huffington Post described the site as "ingenious.", while website Daily Swarm describes the annotations as "bland" and uninformative.
Rap Genius offers verified account to established rap artists where they annotate, moderate and correct their own lyrics. Nas is the first rapper to get a verified Rap Genius account where he'll be annotating all his own lyrics and commenting on the lyrics of other rappers he admires. RZA is also one of the rappers with verified account on Rap Genius. The two rappers have already started annotating their own lyrics.
In late 2012, San Francisco novelist Bacchus Paine became the first current release author to voluntarily annotate part of her own work, a semi-fictional mixture of philosophy and pornography, on the site, including supplementing the narrative with photos taken at events like Folsom Street Fair, featured in the novel.
|Annotate a lyric||+100|
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- "About". Rap Genius. 2011-08-09. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
- "The Rap Map — Mapping the Gangsta Terrain of the Planet | Rap Genius". Map.rapgenius.com. 1965-02-21. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
- "Icecube, "It Was A Good Day" Video Breakdown". Rapgenius.com. 2012-05-15. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
- "The 10 Best Music Podcasts - Paste Magazine". www.pastemagazine.com. 2012-06-15. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
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- "Rap Genius: How Bland Are You?". The Daily Swarm. 2010-02-22. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
- Nas verified account on Rap Genius Accessed: 16/03/2012
- NAS INTERVIEW: why Nas wants to annotate his own lyrics on Rap Genius Accessed: 16/03/2012
- RZA verified account on Rap Genius Accessed: 16/03/2012
-  Accessed: 27/02/2013
-  Accessed: 16/01/2013
-  Accessed: 16/01/2013