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UPDATE: There's officially one more genius in the building. On Monday, January 12, Sasha Frere-Jones, The New Yorker's long-time music critic, announced that he was leaving his 11-year post at the cultural mag to join Genius (the lyric-annotating start-up formerly known as Rap Genius).
"Mr. Frere-Jones, 47, said that he chose to leave The New Yorker after 11 years for a variety of reasons," The New York Times reports. "He originally became a critic, he said, because he was frustrated that so many of those who wrote about music were ignorant of its nuances. Genius's tool addresses that, he said, but unlike crowd-sourced information on Twitter or Facebook, which is rapidly superseded, Genius's snippets remain easily visible forever. 'And I'll be honest,' he said. 'I don't want to stay up until 4 a.m. any more at shows, and you can annotate lyrics during the day.'"
Frere-Jones will serve as the site's executive editor, focusing on annotations, marketing, and recruiting a team of major music industry names, artists, and writers to help bring Genius to the journalistic forefront.
This story was originally published on October 18, 2012.
Insane lyrics, serious rivalries, and endless bling (and watches, and grills)—the hallmarks of the rap world don't always make sense to all of us. Indeed, it seems almost impossible to figure out what a song means before you're told to put your hands up and drop your ass low. Who has the time to decode those braggadocios lyrics anyways? Well, these guys do. That's right, meet our new friends Mahbod Moghadam, Tom Lehman, and Ilan Zechory, the three Yale grads who've made de-mystifying the words to "they-said-what?"-songs their
business biz-nass—and a very successful one at that.
After a serendipitous conception in 2009, the trio's brain-child-turned-sugar-daddy, Rap Genius, has helped millions of monthly readers better understand an endless array of fast-paced lyrics. Oh, and did we mention they've raised $15 million? To get in on the $$$-making dudes' secrets to success, we headed to Williamsburg for an up-close-and-personal interview and office tour, plus a chat that might inspire your own cash-cow idea. And when that happens, just remember who was there with you, on the ground floor...