The cofounder of Rap Genius has resigned due to UCSB shooter comments


Originally intended as a place for analyzing lyrics, Rap Genius has become a forum for annotating any culturally significant text. Sometimes, the site’s founders even step in and leave their two cents, and yesterday cofounder Mahbod Moghadam did just that on alleged UCSB shooter Elliot Rodger’s 140-page manifesto, “My Twisted World.” If you read the text over the weekend, like so many people did, you may have been sickened, terrified, or distressed by Rodger’s words. Moghadam didn’t seem to be, and he left a series of annotations on the missive, via his Rap Genius user page.

The authorities say that before Elliot O. Rodger killed six people near the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara, on Friday night, he left behind a 140-page manifesto. As the Internet picked up the pieces of who this troubled young man had been, the website Rap Genius, which tries to decipher every lyric in hip-hop, posted the manifesto and allowed people to highlight and add notes to Mr. Rodger’s writing. But the experiment turned bad for the company when Mahbod Moghadam, a Rap Genius co-founder, posted controversial comments about the manifesto, writing snide notes about Mr. Rodger’s sister and praising his writing style. As a backlash emerged on social media, Rap Genius, which was founded in 2009 and has raised almost $17 million in funding, said on Monday that Mr. Moghadam had resigned from the company and its board. Pointing to a passage in the manifesto, Mr. Moghadam said it was “beautifully written.” He noted that another sentence was “artful.” And in a passage where Mr. Rodger refers to his own sister, Mr. Moghadam wrote a degrading comment about her.

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