Rap Genius launched its first mobile app today, Genius, described by the company as “your pocket guide to human culture.”
The app will allow users to search Rap Genius, scan songs in the users’ iTunes Library and match with annotated lyrics, and as the site describes, “hold your phone up to music playing around you, and – SHAZAM! (The Rap Genius annotation reads: “no relation”)– Genius instantly takes you to the annotated lyrics for that song.”
As of now, Genius will not display lyrics for music playing from any other app, such as Spotify and it’s Genius Recognition Technology has no affiliation with Shazam.
“This is the true launch of Rap Genius,” wrote co-founder Tom Lehman in a statement on the app launch, noting “more than half of our traffic comes from mobile devices. Soon, it will be 100% – In 1,000 years, when the aliens land, ‘Rap Genius’ will literally mean ‘that dope iPhone app’.”
After a recent spat with Google about backlinking in order to increase Rap Genius search ranking resulted in a penalization and sharp decline in traffic, this app will allow the company to bypass some of it’s dependence on search engine traffic, specifically for mobile which as stated above makes up over half of Rap Genius’s overall traffic.
This launch could be another sign that the company is attempting to further legitimize itself in light of its controversial reputation (see: comments made to Mark Zuckerberg). Since the National Music Publishers Association called out Rap Genius for hosting unlicensed lyrics in November, the company has secured licensing deals with Sony/ATV and Universal Music Publishing.
The name of the app– just “Genius” — may signal the companies continued move away from only rap music to various other content verticals. As Billboard reported, in addition to the existing Rock Genius, Poetry Genius and News Genius, the company plans to expand into country music, sports, law, philosophy, movies, TV shows, history and religion. As investor Mark Andreessen wrote explaining why Andreessen Horowitz put $15 million into the company, the broad goal of Rap Genius is to “annotate the world.”