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Rap Genius rebrands itself 'Genius' as part of mission to 'annotate the world'

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Rap Genius is ditching the "rap" part of its name. The company that started as a website where users could annotate and explain hip-hop lyrics is about much more than music these days. It's now a platform (or "knowledge project" in the words of its bumptious co-founders) that lets visitors share their interpretations of poetry, current news headlines, and a growing list of "everything else." So its creators have decided that it's time for a name that mirrors their ambitious focus.

"Genius does for everything what Rap Genius did for rap," Ben Horowitz, an early Rap Genius investor, said in a statement today. Describing the internet as "the greatest store of knowledge in human history," co-founders Tom Lehman and Ilan Zechory claim that people often gloss over the web's content "without ever diving in." Thats where Genius and its annotations come in, apparently. "We believe that an internet that is Genius-powered will help us all realize the richness and depth in every line of text." The company wants to see "Genius" morph into a verb used between friends in the same way "Google" did.

Embeddable annotations are coming

As part of that push to create a full-on platform, Genius will soon allow other websites to embed its technology and build annotatable pages of their own. A good demonstration of how those tools work can be seen at Business Insider, which just published an inside look at Genius and its rocky road getting to this point. The company has endured a brush with Google over questionable SEO practices, and in late May Lehman and Zechory fired fellow co-founder Mahbod Moghadam after he published tone-deaf annotations regarding the manifesto of mass killer Eliot Rodger. But now the company says it's ready to push forward. True to their signature style, Lehman and Zechory were a bit more emphatic about it.

Rap Genius, founded by lovers, began as but a woeful ballad to Cam'ron's eyebrow. But the intervening years have morphed us into soldiers, full of strange oaths, and that is how we stand before you today, ready to pursue our mission of global annotation with renewed vigor.