Rap Genius, the biggest site for hip-hop lyrics, has changed its name to Genius. The name change is part of a slow transition the site has been in for two years or so. Last year the annotation website expanded to launch “News Genius,” “Poetry Genius,” and “Rock Genius.” This expansion has ultimately lead to the rebranding of the site to Genius, to better reflect its expansion of its services into “poetry, literature, the Bible, political speeches, legal text, science papers…”
The announcement of the name change also comes with the news that the site has acquired $40 million in private funding, which goes hand in hand with their plans to expand their services. The money has largely come from Rock Ventures founder Dan Gilbert. The goal with Genius is to expand the service beyond lyrics. The plans so far include educational projects, as well as anything that can be annotated to better explain its meaning. As co-founders Ilan Zechory and Tom Lehman explain:
Any text can be as layered, as allusive and cryptic, as worth of careful exegesis as rap lyrics.
Genius will also now offer embeddable annotations, meaning that any site will be able to use its annotation method and presentation, allowing footnotes to appear when a user clicks highlighted text.
All this good news for the site comes after its recent bad press, which included its co-founder Mahbod Moghadam resigning from Rap Genius after leaving less than savory annotations on Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger’s manifesto.
The remaining founders don’t seem deterred by any of this, and with their new embeddable annotations in place, it seems the site is poised to be as profitable and important as ever. But, one thing is for sure: the Rap Genius reference in Das Racist’s “Middle of the Cake” will sound super outdated now.