Talking tech since 2003

Today, lyrical annotation site Rap Genius has launched its official iOS app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users who want to learn more about the music they listen to.

Genius allows you to not only browse the site’s extensive backlog of song, poetry and news data, but it will also scan your music library (specifically the native Music app) and bring up lyrics and their meanings for each song it knows.

In our experience, which means downloading the app without having a Rap Genius account and exploring what’s on offer for those simply wanting to try it out, it does a great job servicing the end-user. And thankfully, it does so without shoveling ads onto every other screen.

Right after opening the app and being introduced to its features by a simple introduction, my music library was scanned in the background, and was already giving me history on my music right on the homepage. In my case, it was Johnny Cash’s big hit, ‘Walk the Line,’ which I was listening to yesterday.


In both songs you own and songs you don’t (that are searchable in the app by text or sound), lyrics can be scrolled through as you play the song, and each one is tappable. Selecting a set of lyrics will bring up pictures and information about the meaning of the words, as well as any historical context about the song’s artist.

As mentioned earlier, you can also find information on songs you don’t own. For example, I don’t own the song “Get Lucky” from Daft Punk. But being in LA at the time of its release, I, of course, heard it dozens of times in an afternoon. Within Rap Genius, I can search for the song by its title or by a section of its lyrics (if that’s all I can recall), and pull up information on it immediately. The app also links to the official music video of each song if there’s one available.


Perhaps the most useful feature in Genius is one that’s become rampantly popular to include in mobile apps and operating systems since the launch of the iPhone: song recognition. This works by pressing the “listen” button atop the home menu of Genius, letting the app hear the song being played around you (in a coffee shop, club, or restaurant), and if it recognizes it in its database, it will pull up the song’s information.

Disappointingly, as a fan and player of the banjo, there are plenty of bluegrass songs it didn’t recognize. And though it’s called Rap Genius, the company is still positioning itself as becoming this all-in-one service for music, so missing certain genres entirely can deflate the feature’s usefulness in spots. Then again, there are plenty of times where it did recognize the song, but it didn’t have any information about the song. Weird.


“Thousands of years from now, the mobile app is how people will remember Rap Genius”, co-founder Tom Lehman told TechCrunch in an exuberant tone that’s becoming typical for the company.

The app is free and available right now on the App Store, with an Android app coming later down the line. Though it sounds like the company is focused intensely on nailing the iPhone experience first before focusing development on another platform.

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