Teach Me How to Startup
Last night, a varied crowd of rappers, rappers’ entourages, music industry types, and startup folks gathered downtown at Capitale, for the launch of Gig It.
A new Facebook game–bold timing, considering the current dismal state of Zynga–Gig It allows gamers to create custom concerts using 3D avatars. It’s basically The Sims Social crossed with Guitar Hero, but starring famous rappers. More than 50 artists have cut deals with the company to lend their faces to the project.
On a giant screen behind the stage: #THIS AINT NO FARM. (Get it? Because it’s concerts, instead of agriculture?) In between introducing the acts, emcees DJ Khalid and La La hyped the game constantly, going so far as to call it a “movement.”
Visitors who search for Harlem rapper Azealia Banks’ breakout hit, “212,” on Rap Genius, an online platform that crowd-sources explanations of hip-hop lyrics, will find nearly every verse annotated by the site’s users, who clocked more than 2 million monthly uniques in August, according to comScore. Click on the line “Now she wanna lick my plum in the evening / And fit that ton-tongue d-deep in,” and a pop-up immediately appears explaining that Ms. Banks is employing a metaphor for cunnilingus and that “She stutters the words tongue and deep to mimic the stuttering that occurs when one receives such a gift.” That exegesis received 11 upvotes, earning the contributor jamima-j, a female “slam poetry writer,” a healthy bump in “Rap IQ” points on the site.
Readers might find her analysis either amusing or unnecessary. But the reigning kings of Sand Hill Road, venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, view Rap Genius as “one of the most important things we’ve ever funded,” co-founder Ben Horowitz told Betabeat last week. The prominent V.C. firm, which clawed its way into the Silicon Valley firmament in just three years by aggressively plowing millions into fast-growth tech start-ups like Facebook, Pinterest, foursquare and Airbnb, often at towering valuations, were the sole investors behind the site’s $15 million Series A.
In the latest (and possibly last) edition of Spin (which isn’t online yet), there’s a brief “Words of Wisdom” profile with rapper and Nicki Minaj collaborator 2 Chainz, where he makes a confession about his early attempts at self-promotion. His strategy? To work with other, more famous rappers, and thereby become “part of their Google.” He elaborates:
“I would also try to be a part of their Google. Like when you Google Gucci Mane, Rocko, Gorilla Zoe, anyone in Atlanta–basically everybody except Outkast. I kept that same concept outside of Georgia. Every artist that wanted to work with me, I would do a verse with ‘em.”
By the laws of the Internet, you, sir, are now qualified to add “brand evangelist” to your Twitter bio.