If you have never heard of the website Genius then chances are you have never attempted to Google song lyrics. Genius has become the premier hub for anyone looking for song lyrics.
Once upon a time, the website we call Genius was called Rap Genius. Mike D from According 2 Hip-Hop was able to sit down with one of Genius’ co-founders, Mahbod Moghadam. Mahbod was born to an Iranian Jewish family and grew up in Encino, California. He graduated from Yale University in 2004 with a major in History and International Studies. In 2005, he went to France on a Fulbright scholarship. When he returned in 2005, he enrolled at Stanford Law School and graduated in 2008 with a J.D. Moghadam had been working on HellaDoge, a platform where users get Dogecoin for posting, but recently stepped away from it because he’s sick of crypto, even though he invested in Bitcoin and Ethereum very early on. He now is looking for a co-founder who can build Communistagram, which would be like Instagram but you get paid on Venmo.
He cites Biggie and 2Pac as his introduction to Hip-Hop, “The first music that I started getting into like, you know, spending my allowance money to buy CDs was alternative. I was really into Green Day and Nine Inch Nails. So one of my friends who were actually White, like a skater guy, he’s like, oh, you should start listening to Alternative Rap. The biggest one was Dilated Peoples. The first Rappers I ever got into were Dilated Peoples and then Jurassic 5. Mos Def, I was an early fan of Talib Kweli. He’s angry but he makes peaceful Rap, but he’s very angry on Twitter. I was still a nerd. Like all I was doing was school and stuff. But then Senior year of High School, my Persian friends started taking me to clubs and stuff and they are the ones who are like obsessed with Tupac and Biggie. Like 98’/99’ that’s when I started becoming obsessed with Tupac and Biggie. That’s really what really got me into Rap was those two, especially Tupac, like, he was the first Rapper and I started memorizing all of his songs. What made Genius happen is I went to Yale for college so I became more East Coast influenced. I prefer Southern/West Coast Rap but on East Coast, you have more of the wordplay. For me the best example of that is Jay Z. So that’s really who inspired Genius, it was the East Coast Rappers where you can go through and break this down line by line. The Rapper who I was obsessed with who I was explaining his lyrics to the Genius CEO, which inspired him to build Genius was Cam’ron. Everyone at Yale at the time was obsessed with Cam’ron, he was considered to be the most intellectual rapper.” Mahbod says.
Mahbod also has strong feelings about the current direction of Genius, “It’s getting worse and worse. I’m suing Genius right now.” the tech mogul states. I’m trying to at least get a drop of juice from this rock, squeezing the rock for some juice, but Genius basically became worthless.
Google started stealing Genius’ lyrics. Genius proved that Google stole our lyrics because we made the commas in the lyrics have a special code so we could prove that they were stealing them from us. It was on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. I’m like, Alright, we’re gonna destroy Google. And then later I found out Google had wanted to buy Genius for $750 million. So I would be a multimillionaire right now. But the CEO turned down 750 he decided to sue Google. So Google won the case. But we appealed and now the Genius versus Google case is actually going to the Supreme Court. So it’s gonna be really crazy. Meanwhile, Google still stole our lyrics, so Genius’ traffic went down the toilet. It went from the 100th biggest site to like, the 1,000th biggest site. They were low on money and were forced to sell it to this guy who I was telling you about. His Dad started to cartoon Inspector Gadget. So he uses Daddy’s money to buy Hip-Hop websites and destroy them. He destroyed Worldstar and he destroyed Datpiff. They straight up shut down Datpiff after he bought it.”
Check out the full interview below.