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7 Ways that RapGenius Assists Digital African American Literary Scholarship

[By Kenton Rambsy]

I said it once and I’ll say it again: Rap Genius is not just
for Rap fans. In my post, Rap Genius and Black Literature, I wrote about how the
website “helps clarify the importance of language usage, historical context,
and thematic content in poems, speeches, essays, and novels.”
Rap Genius’s growing online collection of black writers
ranging from Langston Hughes to Nikki Giovanni aids in sparking conversations
concerning black literature and serves as a valuable digital resource. In some
respects, the site could be considered Cliffsnotes of the 21st Century by providing an interactive
platform for engaging, summarizing, reading texts.
I have come up with a list of 7 reasons that explain the
significance of crowd-sourced annotations to the study of Black Literature and
digital humanities to encourage literature enthusiasts to become more interested in using Rap Genius:

  1. RapGenius demonstrates how scholars of African American and
    American literature can engage in digital humanities through collaborative
    web-based projects.
  2. RapGenius’s multimedia annotation system encourages the use
    of text, images, videos, and sound bites in the explication of texts and
    lyrics.
  3. RapGenius, through its social media platform and easily
    accessible crowd-sourced annotation system, encourages its users to be active
    in the production of knowledge on African American literary texts.
  4. RapGenius’s digital glossary of poetic terms provides
    immediate access to definitions that aid in analyzing literary features in a
    given text.
  5. RapGenius’s explanations addresses barriers between readers
    and texts by assisting users in decoding language use, thematic content, and
    historical details. 
  6. RapGenius’s growing body of African American literary texts
    fills a void in terms of digital accessibility to essays, poetry, and select
    novels by black people.
  7. RapGenius, through its use of hyperlinks, creates a field
    for cross-fertilization that offers a variety of interlinked online sources,
    videos, or interviews for further reading on particular subjects in the
    explanations.