While brothers sit in the studios busting rhymes and never making a dime, educated guys at Yale are making millions off of the products that they create. Three friends at Yale University created the website “Rap Genius,” which translates hip hop lyrics, and have turned it into a multi-million dollar empire.
This week, the tech investment firm Andreessen Horowitz dropped another $15 million into the coffers of Mahbod Moghadam, Tom Lehman, and Ilan Zechory, the founders of the site, in hopes that they can continue to spur the site’s growth. The site initially branded as “something you can look at in your dorm, when you’re on drugs,” has become a full-time gig for these college students with a strong entrepreneurial spirit.
The site currently gets up to half a million pageviews per day and has become a go-to spot for those trying to understand what rappers are talking about. The owners of the site don’t have to do much of the work, since the users are the ones who do the translation most of the time.
One example if Jay-Z’s song “99 Problems.” One of his lyrics says:
“Got two choices y’all, pull over the car or / Bounce on the devil, put the pedal to the floor,”
The Rap Genius Translation is:
“Jay is unsure whether he ought to cooperate with the police trying to pull him over, or to try to run away. The ‘devil’ here is, of course, the White Devil.”
Maybe one day black people can get better at making money off of themselves, instead of fueling the profits of others. The key is education.