New Yorker's Pop Critic Leaves for Lyrics Startup

Sasha Frere-Jones joins annotating site Genius
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2015 1:16 PM CST
New Yorker 's Pop Critic Leaves for Lyrics Startup
Sasha Frere-Jones is leaving the New Yorker.   (Wikimedia Commons/Piera Gelardi)

After 11 years at the New Yorker, the magazine's pop music critic is departing to join a startup. Sasha Frere-Jones' new job is as executive editor for Genius, a startup that annotates lyrics and other material online, the New York Times reports; he will focus on annotating lyrics. Genius, previously called Rap Genius, was launched in 2009 to annotate rap lyrics; it has received some $55 million in funding as it expands to include the annotation of everything from menus to Shakespeare, the Times notes. Its sections include history, sports, and law.

Frere-Jones applauds the site for taking a closer look at popular music's intricacies. Plus, "I don’t want to stay up until 4am any more at shows, and you can annotate lyrics during the day," he tells the Times. The rise of the site, whose motto is "annotate the world," hasn't been without its hitches. Gawker has raised fears that Genius could, despite some input from rappers themselves, bring "an effective whitewashing of decades of art without the input of its creators or intended audience." And one co-founder resigned after what the Times calls a "snide annotation" of the manifesto of UC Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger. But Frere-Jones notes that he "didn’t meet those people," and was simply impressed by the site's plan. (Read more Sasha Frere-Jones stories.)

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