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I am one of those people who does not necessarily see Genius—the lyrics-annotation platform that you’ve likely ventured to once or twice—as the enemy. Yes, I understand the bullshit solipsism of a bunch of white internet kids interpreting black art, but whatever: A project like To Pimp a Butterfly often shines under a collective, networked analysis.
However, I do understand why Genius’ completist attitude can be pretty stupid. There are certain lines in certain rap songs that simply don’t need a thorough whitebread translation, and what it does happen, it can’t help but come off super fucking funny, and, yeah, borderline offensive. Here are eight instances where Genius’ hivemind misfired.
1) Kanye West – “Hold On”
Yeah the annotation is funny and totally up-its-own-ass, but I’m mostly into the guy who took the time to transcribe each inflection of Kanye’s scream. Well done my man.
2) Gucci Mane – “Nobody”
Yes, perfect, thank you for clearing that up. Somehow you took more words than the original bar contained to explain what Gucci Mane meant when he threatened to shoot you in your pee-pee. Appreciate it, bro.
3) The Notorious B.I.G. – “What’s Beef?”
OK, I have to admit, I laughed. The deeper cut from Biggie was basically calling out all the featherweight rap feuds at the time, and saying real men solve problems with actual violence. This annotation is kinda the moral of the story, right?
4) Lil B – “Ima Eat Her Ass”
The song is called “Ima Eat Her Ass,” the lyric is “Ima Eat Her Ass,” and yet you still felt the need to clarify that “the BasedGod will eat her ass.” Like, fine. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
5) Mac Miller – “S.D.S.”
Shout out to Mac Miller. I like my dumb, white-boy frat rappers like I like my presidents: self-aware, and in the midst of total ego death.
6) Schoolboy Q – “Hoover Street”
Is it really, though? I mean, I’m not sure how much pussy you’d need to eat to make your mustache pink, but it can’t be that much more than your usual amount of pussy? Oh god, I’m arguing with a five-word Genius annotation.
7) Viper – “Y’all Cowards Don’t Even Smoke Crack”
I’m more captivated by the bar, honestly. This is such a permanent end to an argument, and I’m not even sure why. I just know that if I was ever beefing with somebody and they replied “whatever, you don’t even smoke crack,” there’s no available comeback. Regardless, the fact that this annotation isn’t just “shit, he’s right” means it’s a total failure.
8) Yung Turd – “Wobby Woo”
All right, sometimes Genius is pretty good.
Entertainment and sports reporter Luke Winkie has written everywhere from A.V Club to Vice, including Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, Kotaku, Playboy, Mel, and Polygon.