Christopher Dorner's Manifesto Goes Viral—On Rap Genius

The Andreessen Horowitz-backed site that grew out of annotating rap lyrics just got its resident Bible and Mayflower Compact expert to parse the manifesto of the ex-LAPD, murderous fugitive.

You know Rap Genius is bigger than hip-hop.

But proof arrived this week in the form a Rap Genius parsing of murderous ex-cop fugitive Christopher Dorner's manifesto.

"We've had stuff go viral, but I think it's going to be the most viral thing of all time," says Rap Genius cofounder Mahbod Moghadam. "In the 12 hours its been up, it's gotten more social attention than ASAP Rocky's 'Fuckin' Problems'"—lyrics to the New York rapper's hit song have been on Rap Genius for weeks.

It was Rap Genius super user Houston Barnett-Gearhart, 21, who took to the Andreessen Horowitz-backed site—it launched originally as an interactive tool to explain rap lyrics references—to try and makes sense of a screed left by Dorner. The ex-Los Angeles Police Department officer killed an LAPD officer and two other people on Feb. 7 (one was the daughter of a former police captain). A fourth person, a sheriff's deputy, was killed during a shootout with Dorner on Tuesday when police surrounded a cabin in the San Bernardino Mountains in California, where he was holed up.

Now comes the Rap Genius part.

Moghadam, his cofounders, and his backers have always envisioned the site as a tool for use for not only all kinds of lyrics but as guide to the world. And Barnett-Gearhart had a knack for explaining out-of-the-box subjects on Rap Genius. He first contacted the service to ask about annotating the transcript of presidential debates, Barnett-Gearhart says. He uploaded two of them. "It got popular very quick." So he started uploading historic founding U.S. documents. "The Mayflower Compact was the obvious first choice." Later he saw web scholar (and Rap Genius verified user) Clay Shirky talking about Rap Genius—he referenced Barnett-Gearhart's Mayflower Compact explanation. "That's when he reached out to us," Moghadam says. He hired Barnett-Gearhart, who's interested in Bible Study along with historical documents, to help start Bible Genius. "It was a sign from God," Moghadam says. Bible Genius is one of several channels or offshoots Rap Genius is pursuing, along with law, poetry, rock music lyrics and more.

Moghadam calls a manifesto the "illest fit" for Rap Genius. But he says Barnett-Gearhart was the only person who could make sense—or speculate intelligently, at least—on a murderer's manifesto. "Interestingly enough, the Dorner manifesto references religion a handful of times. But that's not surprising. If you look at the thing (11,000 words long), it has references to everything—pop culture, political policy, philosophy, etc." The reason it took off on Rap Genius, he says, has to do with the fact that it's fresh in everyone's minds. "It's as current as a current event can get. I think that plus the fact it's a text that works extremely well with the core function of Rap Genius—crowdsourced explanations—has lead to how popular it's become."

The Rap Genius entry for Dorner's manifesto also proves the site's scale. At the time of this post, ASAP Rocky's "Fuckin' Problems" lyrics has 112 Tweets, 735 Likes on Facebook, 30 G+ shares. Dorner's manifesto has 146 Tweets, 1,000 Likes (and no G+'s yet).

"I'd like to look into other manifestos and compare 'em to Dorner's and each other," Barnett-Gearhart says. "But at the end of the day I'm getting Biblical."

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  • alec1124

    well, there are numerous  ways you can kill somebody without using a gun.  one was the way the LAPD  dealt with Mr Dorner.  He was abused and emotionally drained.   Any judgement he made after LAPD fired the man since 3 -4 years and awaiting for the unbiased judgment of the good governance of the LAPD to materialized  you can not blame him if it was not the way you expected it be period.  You have psychologist and  Doctors working at some of these organizations yet they allowed the authorities of this organizations to treat human being as if they have no emotions.   what I am trying to say is that the man may have started losing his mind after he was unfairly treated.  

    So sorry for the loses of innocent lives that were involved.  they did not have to die.  I am begging people to think about the consequences of their actions. The LAPD  were the ones that killed those innocent people and not Dorner.  

    Racism has become the worm that people are allowing to eat a society and they think that they are justified.    Not doing any thing about it, you are as guilty as people who are doing the deed.

    Human rights activists and other rights please  do look into this issue. 


  • Ecadf Ethiopia

    Christopher Dorner was abused in the L.A police department just because he was black and he was labeled lair... its important to give attention for the manifesto to avoid future problems.

  • Alfonso Martinez

    Los Angeles Police Dept is a para-military entity - need to be a study done on the Manifesto from the Federal Governement or Interpol-   you cannot trust the same L.A. Police Department to do an investigation on its own people.  NOTICE:  the silent Blue Line.  

  • Deb

    I agree.  LAPD cannot do their own investigation.  After reading the manifesto, I believe LAPD was wrong in what they did to him. There were racist and did not want to face the truth.