Raise your hand if you can relate: You’re listening to a song, maybe on the radio or at a party, and somehow you don’t quite understand the words, so you go online to look them up, and sometimes you still can’t make any sense of what you find. This is twice as likely if the track is not in your native language and probably four times as likely if we are talking about rap music.
I know, I know, rap music is a bit of a contentious topic. I’ve been told rap isn’t really music, but rather an assortment of criminally inclined males, talking about narcotics, cash, vehicles and female dogs with auto-tuned voices and some computer-generated sounds in the background. There are also those who call rappers the poets of the 21st century. Admittedly, as an avid listener, I lean towards the latter view, but, as always, I know the truth lies somewhere in-between, at least when you talk about the genre as a whole. However, regardless of your feelings towards this particular genre, the influence and scope of rap music has increased considerably, so you certainly have made ‘first contact’ and it is likely you have faced the aforementioned problem. This is where rapgenius.com comes in handy.
Not only do they provide a commendable array of rap lyrics, but the online community also takes the time to explain the meaning and origin of most of the lines. You want an example? When Kanye raps ‘…and pray that all of their [his people’s] pain be champagne…’ in “Otis”, it’s not just some decadent call for drinks, but he also makes use of a homonym (playing on sham pain, but of course you already knew that) which dates back to at least the 1860’s. Another example? In Jay-Z’s song “99 Problems”, not once does he insult women by using the word bitch, even though it features repeatedly and quite prominently. So if you ever wondered what the hell rappers are intending to say, this might be the best place to look for answers.
Besides providing an extensive library of lyrics, the Rap Genius editors publish entertaining articles on a regular basis as well. These are not simply updates on the latest drive-by or mix tape release dates, as you might suspect, but rather examinations of rap culture, like obituaries for the founding fathers of the genre or essays, philosophizing on the existence of triple entendres in rap. Thus, it is also an excellent source for your rap-related reading.