Rap Genius Got $15 Million in Investor Financing. So Why Does Everyone Hate Them?
Rap Genius editor-in-chief Shawn Setaro had a slightly different take, publishing an open letter on the site in which he asserted that the chat room conversation was "coordinated by trolls who impersonated Rap Genius users in an attempt to discredit the site."
"Someone speaking up in a chat room is equivalent to a Twitter user making a post, or to a comment on a blog," Setaro went on. "It is not remotely reflective of the site as a whole, merely of the opinions of one individual user."
(Whatever the case, Moghadam took to his own chat room to fire back at and threaten the blogger, though in a typically mercurial turn Moghadam now says: "I love his writing. I'm not someone who gets offended.")
All of this contributed to a feeling that Rap Genius' founders were getting rich off an art form they were new to and might not have the proper respect for. And indeed, Moghadam is not often careful with his words. "I just try to focus on myself because I want to be famous," he says the night of his birthday party, before quickly adding: "I guess I should focus more on the site."
Mike Campbell Shawn Chrystopher, Mahbod Moghadam, Tom Lehman, and Mike G
In fact, he's recently launched something of a public charm offensive; he may have money, but he'd clearly like credibility too.
Moghadam pled his case recently on the podcast hosted by former music attorney and managing editor of The Source Regge Osse, aka Combat Jack. Moghadam found himself in the crosshairs of the show's co-host Dallas Penn, who admitted to being a fan of the Rap Genius concept but not always of the tone.
"Coming from a place of privilege, rap music for some of these kids is a ghetto safari," he said, consistently denigrating Moghadam as a "Fuckeyberg," ie a low-class Mark Zuckerberg. "Something they can observe from the safety of headphones or laptops, and what interests them and excites them the most is nihilistic, dysfunctional personalities."
"I think they are flippant about the world around them, and the people that they are writing about [and] making money off of," adds Noz. "I just don't think they have the perspective to approach it in a mature manner."
On the podcast Moghadam, in between humorous ramblings about the dangers of junk food, admitted to being a hip-hop outsider. Still, he noted that he grew up in poverty, and in fact the most eloquent defense of Rap Genius' philosophy came from Nicole Otero, whose role at the site is is building relationships with rap artists.