Novel Uses For (Rap) Genius

Genius started out as a platform for annotating clever rap lyrics but has since expanded to include more than hip-hop, and more than just lyrics. Over the last week I have stumbled across some increasingly novel uses for the Rap Genius website:

  • First was an annotation of Hamilton: An American Musical soundtrack. These annotations are filled with interesting tidbits and insights into the song lyrics, American history, and production plot.
  • Second was an annotation of the entire Great Gatsby. Wonderful.
  • Lastly, Travis Korte used the Genius Web Annotator to create an informative takedown of the GOP’s recent Mainstream Media Accountability Survey. The annotation exposes the confusingly worded questions, sample bias and leading questions used in the survey.
Hypnotize Lyrics

The Evolving Complexity In The Construction Of Rap Lyrics


Right on the heals of this large hip hop mixtape dump comes an enlightening Vox video that explores the advancing complexity of rap lyrics and rhyme construction. Employing the research of Martin Connor and some helpful visual aids, the video explores how the best artists manipulate words, rhymes, beats, and motifs in continually sophisticated ways.

Here is a playlist highlighting songs used in the video and others that are choice examples of how outstanding rhyming in rap can be.

One + One


Chris Cornell, of Soundgarden fame, combined the lyrics from Metallica’s song “One” with the melody from U2’s song “One” to great effect. I’m not a huge Metallica or U2 fan (more of a Soundgarden fan I suppose) but this combination is uniquely moving.

There is another video of a different performance of the song on YouTube. It has better sound quality but lacks the same emotion as the performance above.

Black Rage


In light of the recent events in Ferguson, Lauryn Hill released her powerful song “Black Rage” on SoundCloud last week. She has been performing the song live for years now but it is only recently that she has released a recording of the song. Lauren Hill describes the emotional song as an old sketch that was recorded in her living room (you can hear the voices of children in the background).

Modeled after “My Favorite Things” with with lyrics that cut deep, the piece bring to the forefront not just of the depth of Ferguson’s injustice, but its context. The lyrics can be found below.

BLACK RAGE is founded on two-thirds a person
Rapings and beatings and suffering that worsens,
Black human packages tied up in strings,
BLACK RAGE can come from all these kinds of things.
BLACK RAGE is founded on blatant denial
Squeezed economics, subsistence survival,
Deafening silence and social control.
BLACK RAGE is founded on wounds in the soul!

When the dogs bite
when the beatings
When I‘m feeling sad,
I simply remember all these kinds of things and then I don’t fear so bad!

BLACK RAGE is founded: who fed us self hatred,
Lies and abuse while we waited and waited?
Spiritual treason, this grid and its cages,
BLACK RAGE is founded on these kinds of things.
BLACK RAGE is founded on draining and draining,
Threatening your freedom to stop your complaining.
Poisoning your water while they say it’s raining,
Then call you mad for complaining, complaining.
Old time bureaucracy drugging the youth.
BLACK RAGE is founded on blocking the truth!
Murder and crime, compromise and distortion,
Sacrifice, sacrifice who makes this fortune?
Greed, falsely called progress.
Such Human contortion.
BLACK RAGE is founded on these kinds of things.

So when the dogs bite
And when the ceilings
And when I’m feeling mad.
I simply remember all these kinds of things and then I don’t fear so bad!

Free enterprise, is it myth or illusion?
Forcing you back into purposed confusion.
Black human trafficking or blood transfusion?
BLACK RAGE is founded on these kinds of things.
Victims of violence both psyche and body
Life out of context IS living unGodly.
Politics. politics
Greed falsely called wealth
BLACK RAGE is founded on denial of self!
Black human packages tied in subsistence
Having to justify very existence
Try if you must but you can’t have my soul
BLACK RAGE is made by unGodly control!

So when the dogs bite
When the beatings
And when I‘m feeling sad,
I simply remember all these kinds of things and then I don’t fear so bad!

Faithful Friends Who Were Dear To Us, Will Be Near To Us No More

“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” is probably my favorite Christmas song simply because of its emotional ambivalence. It resonates closely with so many of the feelings I have around the Christmas season. The lyrics open up that uneasy longing for that unattainable ideal of Christmas that so many of us want. The holidays can be hard.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
It may be your last
Next year we may all be living in the past
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Pop that champagne cork
Next year we may all be living in New York
No good times like the olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were dear to us
Will be near to us no more
But at least we all will be together
If the Lord allows
From now on, we’ll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

My emotions during the holidays weigh heavily. Christmastime brings a contemplative melancholia that I actually revel in, and there is a wistful type of comfort in accepting this. In knowing that the season is steeped in nostalgia and want for a better time and place. In accepting that my memories will grow a little dimmer with the passing of the year. In acknowledging that our world can be unraveled, changed, and built back up with little of our own control. In understanding that friends, family, or loved ones are gone from our lives – for good. I feel akin with the folks who recognize that Christmas can be complicated, emotionally irresolute, and inherently blue.
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Around The World

Lyrics to Daft Punk’s hit song “Around The World

“Around The World”

Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world

Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world

Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world

Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world

Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world

Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world

Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world

Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world

Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world

Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world

Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world

Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world

Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world

Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world

Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world

Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world

Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world

Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world
Around the world, around the world.

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Andrew WK: Harm

Despite all the rumors Andrew WK is human after all. Or at least his persona is had the all-too-familiar angst/lust/confusion of a typical 17 year old. He recently published an article in the Gaurdian about obsessive feelings he had towards his girlfriend and how he ended up expressing those feelings through song. A song that ended up leading to a juvenile restraining order.

It turned out that the assistant to the head of school got a copy of my song on cassette and gave it to the girl I had a crush on. This was probably the worst thing that had ever happened in my life. She heard the song and was completely freaked out. Within three days, every kid in school had a copy. She told her friends, teachers and parents: “This guy at school is stalking me and threatening my life.” She played them the song and they called the police.

The song is actually pretty good for a crazed 17 year-old. Have a listen (The lyrics can be found below th fold) and then go read Andrew’s full account of the embarrassing event:

Andrew WK – Harm

Also, yes I’m very aware that this story is likely not true and simply part of the Andrew WK “project” (marketing machine) and is simply just a story. For that, I may actually appreciate it even more.
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Fresh

This is a story all about how my life got twisted upside down. And I liked to take a minute and sit right there and tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel Air. In west Philadelphia born and raised, on the playground was where I spent most of my days.

Chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool and all shootin’ some b-ball outside of the school. When a couple of guys who were up to no good. Started makin’ trouble in my neighborhood. I got in one lil fight and my mom got scared, she said your movin’ with your auntie and uncle in Bel Air.

I whistled for a cab and when it came near, the license plate said fresh and it had dice in the mirror. If anything I can say this cab is rare, but I thought naw forget it yo homes to Bel Air I pulled up to the house about 7 or 8, and I yelled to the cab, yo homes smell ya later. I looked at my kingdom I was finally there. To sit on my throne as the Prince of Bel Air.