Harnessing the power of an well-informed, opinionated user base, a start-up seeks to explain new areas of culture.
Rap Genius is a website that lets users explain rap lyrics by annotating specific words and lines with their own descriptions and links to supporting data. The young company recently received a burst of investment from Andreessen Horowitz and launched an extension to their site named News Genius. It’s a similar platform for current events and breaking news that begins to turn existing users into a source for news analysis. Crowdsourcing explanations of news events, President Obama’s recent comments in support of closing Guantanamo Bay have already been posted and explained by users, as have the charges against one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, with links back to other mainstream outlets including The New York Times. News Genius primarily exists as a Facebook page and Twitter handle.
Many are noting how going into current news analysis is a leap for a website focused on rap lyric explanations, but rap has always been deeply steeped in social issues and pop cultural references. The larger strategy, as articulated by the founders, is to create a platform that can explain different component of what shapes our lives, and this does include poetry, religion, law, and political news.