Chill The Hell Out About Rap GeniusBy Skinny Friedman
OK don’t get it fucked up, venture capital firm Andressenn Horowitz does not really care about Rap Genius’s cultural capital. For all the press about VC Ben Horowitz’s rap fetishism and photos of various rappers posted up in the Rap Genius offices, the $15 million investment in the site was for its potentially lucrative SEO-gaming, not Kendrick Lamar’s co-sign. This purchase was, to paraphrase the guys who wrote Nas’s last album for him, bigger than hip-hop: they are already planning similar sites for rock, country, religious texts and poetry.
So it’s feasible they didn't get their money, as Cocaine Blunts dude Noz said, "for not being black,” and that this wasn’t just Horowitz trying to buy a hood pass. It’s frustrating to read that his partner is an avid Republican backer because that means rap money is (indirectly) going to powerful people that hate black people. But unfortunately, people acting and voting against their interests is so common that this isn’t even news.
I think Horowitz might have been too starstruck to realize what a fucking terrible idea it was to let founder Mahbod Moghadam be the public face of Rap Genius because he’s like a racist Jean-Ralphio Saperstein. It doesn't matter that the site exists, it matters that people think it's relevant. Their press pretty much consists of them getting trolled by actual rap journalists and people who have no idea what the hell they're talking about giving them big-ups for erroneously using terms like "big-ups" because they think it'll make them look cool (it won't).
Yes, Moghadam’s took a basically colonial approach to the rap world: we’ve now found out that Moghadam actively ignored input and advice from a few reputable music writers--including Dallas Penn, who helped invent rap blogging--opting instead to approach the industry with all the tact of Donald Rumsfeld trying to flip post-invasion Baghdad.
But Moghadam is a lot less infuriating if you realize that he didn’t get his money by being sufficiently down. In a world where page views are currency, hate-reading is still reading. Next time you go to click on that article about Rap Genius, annotated on their site or not, channel that energy into something positive, like telling your friends about this new 11-minute Lil Ugly Mane song.
(Meanwhile, Andreessen Horowitz has a $2.5 billion investment portfolio, and a couple years ago they were among the first to fund a little company called Instagram. Which means without them, we would not have this gem.)
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