Rap Genius founders Tom Lehman, Ilan Zechory, and Mahbod Moghadam.
Rap Genius, the site for recording and annotating rap lyrics, is expanding beyond rap. The company just tweaked the homepage to show off its three recently-launched sections: Poetry Genius, which covers literature; Rock Genius, which covers rock, pop, country music, and more; and News Genius, which is a bit of a catch-all. The new categories are part of the startup's plan to annotate the internet, which it announced back in October when it raised $15 million from major Silicon Valley investors.
"The true promise of the site is to take it beyond hip-hop, beyond music, and analyze, break down, and show the context behind the text for every form of text," co-founder Tom Lehman told The Verge.
Like Rap Genius, the new sections rely on users to upload and annotate content. The annotations are then reviewed by volunteer editors, similar to the way Wikipedia works. Most of Rap Genius is text, but the site is built to handle audio and video annotations as well.
Users started uploading non-rap content early on
Rap Genius has had a lot of success building a site around rap lyrics, but its users started uploading non-rap content fairly early on. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech has been annotated, as have many of President Barack Obama's. Herman Melville's Moby Dick is on the site, broken down by chapters. Cop-turned-killer Chris Dorner's manifesto went viral after it was dissected on the site. Sports games are also being analyzed on News Genius.
The new sections have been live for about a week, but they were somewhat hidden. Today Rap Genius debuted a prominent dropdown menu that navigates between the sites, which are all hosted on rapgenius.com for now but will move to their own domains within the next month. Poetry Genius, Rock Genius, and News Genius have most of the same functionality as Rap Genius, including IQ points for adding annotations and "verified" user accounts.
Once Poetry, Rock, and News are established, the startup will tackle other broad areas. There is talk of Art Genius, for example, which will allow users to annotate a canvas. "This project cannot stop at hip-hop," Lehman said. "This is just the beginning."