Buzz is stirring across all forms of media over an innovative, Wikipedia like site that is making waves in the music and technology industries. RapGenius.com is an annotative-based site that allows patrons to decipher the hidden meanings behind popular music lyrics. For example, in a posting of singer Frank Ocean's release, "Pyramids", a user can click on the listed bars and find the meaning behind the lyrics, seen here:
In Rap Genius’ case, the title doesn’t say it all. The site offers commentary not only for music, but political speeches including Michelle Obama’s recent DNC speech, and historical works such as the Magna Carta. By offering such a diverse range of works, the site aims to create an ever-evolving virtual community that is constantly engaged and continuously contributing. Rap Genius would thus span far beyond the music scope into mainstream knowledge that can appeal to anyone from any discipline.
The site works simply by allowing registered users to offer their explanation of posted song lyrics, in addition to posting and interpreting songs that may not have already been added to the site. As a user, if you continuously offer sound explanations, you will earn RapIQ™ and soon be able to edit all posts on the site- a feature reminiscent of the virtual encyclopedia Wikipedia.
An added bonus to RapGenius.com is the “Verified Artist” feature, where real musical artists and experts are given the opportunity to explain their own lyrics and works to the masses. Anyone from Waka Flocka Flame to Intellectual Property lawyer Mark Lemley can verify their user account and contribute to the Rap Genius community. Not only does this feature serve as a source of credibility for the site, but something that the founders like to call "textual crack" for their loyal patrons. In having the real artist explain the meaning behind their lyrics, the site sustains a lifeline of engagement from users, keeping them looking for the next post and the next explanation.
With a recent $15 million investment from Internet entrepreneur Marc Andreessen, RapGenius.com harbors potential that will surely captivate genres that reach far beyond rap music. In a recent interview, the founders also mentioned talks of iPhone and Android applications; in addition to browser extensions and Java plug ins for external annotation viewing on other sites.
Rap Genius’ loyal community is fostered in social media, leading an additional pathway for growth and expansion. Annotating is only the beginning for RapGenius.com; in a virtual landscape where knowledge can be acquired instantaneously, the site’s offerings have the potential to develop new cultural habits, while enhancing our understanding of the world around us. Take for instance Facebook; what was once a small start up firm that aimed to connect college students has now grown to global proportions, now connecting long lost friends and family, enhancing personal and professional reputations, and changing human interaction, as we know it. Rap Genius may be etching closer and closer to a similar destiny.