Veteran hip-hop journalist Rob Markman will join Genius (formerly Rap Genius) next week as manager of artist relations, Billboard can reveal.
In his new role, Markman will oversee the expansion of Genius’ verified artist program and drive new ways for artists and its community to engage and interact, according to the company, which is well-known for its lyric annotations. He’ll be tasked with working with both established and emerging artists and producers to have them annotate and discuss their work on the service.
Markman most recently served as senior hip-hop editor at MTV News, where he managed all hip-hop content for TV and online. Over his career, he has written cover stories for such titles as Complex, The Source, Vibe and XXL, where he worked as deputy editor from 2007 to 2011. He’s also a Shade 45 personality, a former host on Hot 97 and Power 105 radio stations, and he currently hosts The Red Light Special R&B podcast.
“I’m very excited to be joining the Genius team. Yes, I am a music journalist, but I am a fan first and hip-hop is where it all started for me,” Markman tells Billboard. “I still remember what it was like to buy albums like Nas’s Illmatic or Jay Z’s Reasonable Doubt and rap all of the words, while sitting with my friends in the lunch room searching for the deeper meaning behind these lyrics. Being a part of the Genius community brings me back to those days.”
“I’ve been a Rob Markman fan for a while now. He’s one of the most important voices in hip-hop journalism today, and just a supremely talented and genuine person,” said co-founder Ilan Zechory. “We’re grateful to have him at Genius.”
Founded in 2009, the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Genius now boasts more than 35 million visits every month, during which time more than 100,000 annotations are created. Since 2011, Genius has attracted nearly $60 million in investment from Andreessen Horowitz and other investors (including $40 million raised in 2014 alone).
The so-called “online knowledge project” has extended its activities from annotating rap lyrics to all genres of music and across literature, news, history, sports, movies and technology.