“They call me Jay Electronica – f*ck that
Call me Jay ElecHanukkah, Jay ElecYarmulke
Jay ElecRamadaan, Muhammad A’salaamaleikum
RasoulAllah Subhanahu wa ta’ala through your monitor”
—Jay Electronica, “Exhibit C”
When we first invested in Rap Genius, many people asked us why a Silicon Valley venture capital firm would invest in a website about rap music. We patiently explained that Rap Genius was not just about rap, but was a platform for capturing the knowledge about the knowledge for rap and everything else. I then pointed to important examples in literature, poetry, law, and current events.
Given the broad and important ambition of the company, starting with rap was ideal. This was not intuitive to most. As I have come to understand, for many rap music is either trivial or indecipherable, and “too ethnic.” In reality, rap artists delivered the greatest poetry of the past 30+ years and have given meaning, inspiration, and hope to people across ethnicities.
Why this difference between perception and reality? Because understanding rap requires deep context. To fully appreciate it, you need knowledge of the culture, knowledge of the history, and knowledge of the people. In other words, rap is the perfect category for a platform that aims to provide the knowledge about the knowledge. Rap Genius has, in fact, become the essential knowledge source for understanding rap music.
In doing so, the team at Rap Genius developed two essential assets. First, they created a technology platform that systematically enables a group of scholars to converge on the most correct explanation of a piece of text or video. Next, because people with an interest in rap music tend to be on the cutting edge of culture, Rap Genius fostered a community of cultural experts who have already branched out into important adjacent knowledge areas such as poetry and rock and roll.
Based on these two pillars, today Rap Genius officially expands beyond rap and renames itself Genius. Genius does for everything what Rap Genius did for rap. As part of that, the company is also announcing a new $40M round of funding lead by Dan Gilbert. Rap Genius will continue, forever, as part of the Genius family. I have looked forward to this day for quite some time and welcome everyone to Genius, the explanation of everything.