Rap Genius is a popular website devoted to explaining and interpreting hip-hop lyrics. That’s why, for some, it came as a bit of a surprise when the site announced they had made the entire King James Bible available online.
“…Christianity has consistently played a prominent role in the African-American neighborhoods that nurtured hip-hop. As a result, the hip-hop generation has used that Christian habitus as a way of coping with death and the desire for financial success, as well as a platform for critiquing Christian capitalism, congregational hypocrisy and complicity, and so on. That’s why the recent addition of the King James Bible to the Rap Genius corpus is both natural and exciting.” – Rap Genius, February 25, 2013
User generated content
The way Rap Genius works: it gives people a chance to critique rap like its poetry. People who visit the site listen to songs, click on lines they find interesting and can view user-generated content left by others. If they want, they can leave their own critique or explanation. Anyone can open an account and add to existing explanations. Now, along with being a guide to the meaning of rap lyrics, Rap Genius has made the entire King James Bible available for comment or critique.
The good and the bad
While it’s wonderful to have the King James Bible available to those who visit the Rap Genius site, it also means anyone can highlight a line and explain or critique it. In some ways, this creates a measure of apprehension because it leaves Scripture open to personal interpretation by everyone–believers and non-believers.
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 2:20).
This is an understandable concern, but on the other side of the issue, one could look at this as an evangelistic opportunity to reach people who would not step foot in a church building. People stopping by to look up song lyrics now may come across Scripture. In fact, it would be interesting to do a search to check for cross references to songs or other pop culture from Scripture. The site currently is running the Top 10 Biblical References in Rap. You never know where a search may lead.
“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
The Bible not the only non-hip hop entry
When you first hear that the King James version of the Bible is available on Rap Genius, it may seem an odd match, but the Bible isn’t the only non-hip hop entry on Rap Genius. You can also read classics like Great Expectations on the site. In some ways, you could say Rap Genius is becoming a virtual Cliff Notes.