Genius: An Unconventional Expense of My (Limited) Talents and Time

I have been incredibly depressed as of late. Nothing I imagine most don’t feel upon their graduation from university. I’m overworked, underpaid, and the world feels more uncaring than it ever has. The hours of real, paid work begin to pale in comparison to those of unpaid administrative, maintenance, and emotional labor. With all of this weighing on my rapidly degrading back, I decided to annotate a song on rapgenius.

I know it’s called Genius now, but old habits die hard. I made an account because I applied for a staff writing position they were advertising. By the time this is published, they will have likely filled the position one way or another, so I feel no compunction in sharing my true feelings about the process. Overall, I found it to be a therapeutic experience. I’ve decided if I keep applying for these staff writing positions, I do so on my own terms. I have a job now, *knock on wood that’s still true when this comes out* so these have become more of a lark. Aspirational isn’t the right word, because I still have incredibly mixed feelings about online journalism in general and culture blogs in particular. Nevertheless, I present a brief review of my experience.


I chose a song that was not already on genius. I highly recommend this step. I like meticulous cataloging and pop culture references as much as the next human being, but individual edits on songs would feel, to me, a bit too much like work to be persuaded to do it for free. The song I chose was an obscure Canadian rap track for which I’d held a fondness for a number of years. In fact, the lyrics were never published online until I asked the artist to do so five years ago on his tumblr, my request complete with an embarrassing typo. The ability to separate the lines and stanzas properly was nice, as I’ve occasionally seen them askew on genius.

I began with the annotations the artist provided when he posted the lyrics. I then searched through the song for pop culture references that I could identify for the unaware. Lastly, just as I was ready to call it an evening, I noticed a theme I never had before in the verses. I noticed what the song was building to and finally understood the ending of what, up until that point, seemed to be only an excuse to flex lyrical dexterity. It was honestly a nice feeling engaging with the text in a way I never would have otherwise.


This will be much shorter. It’s exactly what you expect. It’s often tedious, the interface betrays its origins as a forum, and it really is just free labor for a startup.

I was able to find meaning in it, however. The annotation, this post notwithstanding, is the most writing I’ve done in ages. It was just the warm-up I needed to remember what it felt like to express myself with any modicum of creativity. Is it for everyone? Certainly not. I’m not sure it’s even for me, honestly. But when I was hungry, rapgenius gave me food, and for that I am grateful.

The song, for any wondering, is Jesse Dangerously’s “Righteous Bad Ass”, and it is definitely worth a listen.

[PS: I found a great David Lo Pan picture for the profile I was forced to create and avatar. Two points for Genius tonight.]

Image: Genius Media Group Inc.

Author: Zach Ezer

Cartoon Philosopher

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