With its stated mission to not “translate rap into 'nerdspeak', but rather to critique rap as poetry,” Rap Genius was founded in 2009 by Yale grads Mahbod Moghadam, IIan Zechory, and Tom Lehman. The task—to decode the lyrics to every rap song ever recorded—would be an impossible task for three bros alone, so Rap Genius adopted a Wiki-style, user-generated format: Contributors annotate lyrics based on their own understanding, with RG editors and the community at large acting as checks and balances.
Over time, a trend emerged: A majority of the annotations were either totally inaccurate or completely useless. You can blame it on kids not knowing shit about hip-hop, but there is also a fundamental flaw: User-generated systems work best for objective knowledge (like Wikipedia) or for straight-up opinion (like Yelp). Rap Genius is attempting to do both at once—be an authority on rap lyrics while also democratizing their largely subjective interpretation.
Thus, we have the failures found herein: The 25 Worst Annotations on Rap Genius, some of which make urbandictionary.com look like gospel. With Rap Genius expanding to include Poetry Genius, Law Genius, and the recently announced News Genius, this may not be the last time we’ll have to do this.