It’s a very interesting, at times extremely curious, and seemingly more interconnected world that we live in these days. Sure, a lot of that is due to technology: social networking, smart phones and tablets, the takeover of the Internet, you name it. But one of the ideals outside of just technology that has helped to bring the world closer together in the last 20 years is something that lots of people only expected to be a fad and to fade away into utter obscurity after it’s birth, and that thing is Hip Hop.
The music, the culture, the artists and the advances that Hip Hop has made are pretty amazing, especially considering its humble roots in the South Bronx, and all the elements that helped to shape it before that. But now, it’s arguably the most recognizable and popular form of music the world over, at least from some people’s perspective. I say all this having still been surprised to find out that one of the most popular Hip Hop sites today, RapGenius.com, recently got a $15 million investment from one Anderseen Horowitz. Yes, you read that figure correctly: $15 MILLION.
Now, to be fair, RapGenius.com has grown to be a lot more than just a website where people explain some of the most famous Hip Hop lyrics in detail. But essentially, that’s still at the core of what the site is. I admit that late last year, when doing a little more research on “No Church In The Wild” off of Watch The Throne, I came across one of the most insightful and detailed explanations of the lyrics I could find, and dare I say, pretty accurate (at least in my opinion). So yes, the foundational swag of the site is still the detailed information and explanation of rap lyrics. There’s really no arguing that.
However, in a report on Hypebot.com and on an open letter about the new investment on the RapGenius website, investment guru Marc Anderseen, gives more insight into what the investment actually means and what is in store for the site as a whole, namely, becoming “the Internet Talmud”. In other words, Horowitz, Anderseen and the founders of RapGenius.com want the site to become like Judaism’s key book of teachings. Commenting on the fact that the site has already become the prime and definitive online site for Hip Hop’s biggest lyric junkies and most ardent followers, Anderseen goes on to say that RapGenius.com has a much bigger goal than to only be the hottest Hip Hop music website, but to “annotate the world” and become “the knowledge about the knowledge”.
Anderseen goes on to say that he believes that there is music and culture in other genres and languages, noting that other areas of language that can be annotated by RapGenius.com include poetry, literature, the Bible, political speeches, legal texts, science papers and more. And beyond just the need for the best information, Anderseen notes that there is a strong and talented team running the show at RapGenius.com, from community creators to former TV writers to coders that are second to none. It’s plain to see that for the crew at RapGenius.com, to borrow from duo dead prez, it’s bigger than Hip Hop.
In essence, we probably shouldn’t be all that surprised and the grandiose, gigantic goals and aspirations of the founders and investors in RapGenius.com. After all, the site is a combination of two of the greatest cultural advances that arose in the 20th century and took hold in the 21st: Hip Hop and the Internet.
Both have helped the human race make great strides and advances in their own respective ways. Both were considered to be dead-in-the-water ideas that wouldn’t resonate with communities outside of their core, whether they were computer nerds that just happened to be in the middle of the heyday of the counterculture movement, or poor urban youth of color that had their neighborhoods destroyed and were trying to just have some fun with their parents old records. And both have gone on to dominate the world we live in today. And both have always had aspirations to move beyond their respective boarders and do more for the world that surrounds them.
With this recent announcement for RapGenius.com, we may just be seeing an apex moment for the combination of Hip Hop and the Internet. As the site has basically already become the Hip Hop Wikipedia, it now looks to expand to make the social and sharing economy more sociable and shareable than it has even been before. And to think, this has all come about because of Hip Hop fans and their obsession with what rap lyrics really mean.