Twitter Shame For Rap Genius After Rape Joke

An ill-considered joke has the silver-tongued startup scrambling.

Rap Genius is an unlikely Silicon Valley darling, a website for annotating rap lyrics that is diversifying into verticals like news, food, and health after receiving a high-profile $15 million investment from Andreessen Horowitz last year.

Today they're eating crow after tweeting what sounded like a rape joke yesterday.

Rap Genius founder Mahbod Moghadam, speaking to Fast Company today, blamed the tweet on a "rogue tweeter," explaining that up to 50 people had access to the official @RapGenius account. They've since changed the password, but still about 20 people can use the account, he says, and that's all part of Rap Genius's crowdsourcing appeal. "I hope what will happen is that people tweet better stuff, but the brain unlimited is the whole purpose of Rap Genius," he said. "I hate when people do anything deplorable like this, but for every one person who does something, you don't hear about the people who have correct incentives."

Both the original tweet, an apology from Rap Genius, and all annotations on the song in question, have since been deleted, but a Rap Genius-style annotation reveals that while ill-considered, the offending tweet wasn't exactly "out of context."

Chris Weingarten, a music critic for Spin, was referring to the following annotation on the song "Put Cha D. in Her Mouth" by Three Six Mafia, a rap group from Memphis recording on Columbia Records, from the album Da Unbreakables, released in 2003. The song is about consensual fellatio, but at least one commenter/community member, as shown in the image below, made a reference to nonconsensual fellatio.

If you put the phrase used in RapGenius's reply tweet into their own search engine, you get back a direct quote from a Sacramento-based recording artist called Brotha Lynch Hung. The track, titled "Disappeared," is off an album titled Mannibalector, which seems to be an extended serial killer fantasy.

So, to recap: lots of hip-hop, like other pop music, is juvenile, obscene, full of macho posturing, and offensive toward women and other individuals. Assuming this tone over social media, however, while "authentic" to RapGenius's brand, is not acceptable for a prominent, well-funded startup. Looks like a little more code-switching is in order.

[Image: Flickr user passer-by]

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3 Comments

  • Allan Taylor

    Love it: "So, to recap: lots of hip-hop, like other pop music, is juvenile, obscene, full of macho posturing, and offensive towards women and other individuals. " ...way to 'white-wash the story.  yeah Avril L., Radiohead frequently use rape lyrics and over-the-top animalistic violent lyrics like those above.  Crap I'm sorry I really can't say that without laughing.  Much of rap is like this and while some wonderful exceptions exist they are rare.

  • Tom Grunes

    You really have no idea what you are talking about - way to be selective. Wonder why you chose Avril and Radiohead instead of NIN ("f&$k you like an animal" sound familiar?) - marylin manson, sex pistols, slayer, slip knot, madonna, -  I will tell you why, it is because that music isn't made people have a less than desireable appearance (read black) your comment is nothing more or less than elitism (at best) disguised as civic concern for decency 

  • Allan Taylor

    Good point, you forgot a number of others that go to much further extremes...but I'm glad you at least got slipknot.  I could list them for you from my collection but you're the one apparently missing the point.  The author here (and I'm guessing you) are trying to make an excuse for a group that has gone over the line (or do you simply not want to recognize any ? or any with black members?)...trying to lump in "juvenile" lyrics in with a band using the lyrics above is hilarious.  The best now is that you want to make an allowance for the band because it's made by people black people?  Get a life. One of the biggest dangers to black people these days are themselves...especially when large numbers of them decide that crass, disgusting, immature dress and behaviour is a 'racial' right, perogative, and somehow protected.  I say bullshit and...you know shit about me.