Teach Me How to Startup

Mo’ Money for Rap Genius: Impish Ivy Leaguers Raise Millions for Internet Decoder Ring

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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. Read More

Music Moguls

Please Listen to My Demo: A Better Bet for That Big Break?

chris lighty

If rappers were start-ups, New York would be Silicon Valley, the venerable ecosystem know for producing the best talent. Chris Lighty has managed the careers of some of biggest local names: 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, P Diddy and LL Cool J, just to name a few.

Now Lighty has partnered with developer Michael Dizon to create Please Listen to My Demo, a simple service that lets artists submit their music through the web and receive feedback from professional A&R. The best music will not only be fast tracked towards a deal, but will get air play on Hot 97. Read More