Rap Genius Co-Founder Mahbod Moghadam Resigns Following Elliot Rodger Manifesto Annotation

Mahbod Moghadam resigns from Rap Genius and its board of directors after making annotations about Elliot Rodger's 141-page manifesto.

Mahbod Moghadam, one of Rap Genius' co-founders, has resigned from the company following annotations he made regarding Elliot Rodger.

Rodger is a man law enforcement officials believe went on a killing spree near University of California, Santa Barbara recently, killing at least 6 people and injuring several others, before reportedly killing himself. 

Moghadam's annotations, which have since been deleted, were placed on Rap Genius' site, annotating the 141-page manifesto believed to have been left behind by Rodger. In his annotations, Moghadam says at least part of Rodger's document is "beautifully written" and that Rodger's sister is likely "smokin hot." 

"I was fascinated by the fact that a text was associated with such a heartbreaking crime, especially since Elliot is talking about my neighborhood growing up," Moghadam reportedly said in a statement to Gawker. "I got carried away with making the annotations and making any comment about his sisters was in horrible taste, thankfully the [Rap Genius] community edits out my poor judgment, I am very sorry for writing it." 

Tom Lehman, who is a co-founder and CEO of Rap Genius, announced Moghadam's resignation yesterday (May 26). He said Moghadam “not only didn’t attempt to enhance anyone’s understanding of the text, but went beyond that into gleeful insensitivity and misogyny. All of which is contrary to everything we’re trying to accomplish at Rap Genius.

"I cannot let him compromise the Rap Genius mission,” Lehman added.

Rap Genius was founded by Moghadam, Lehman and Ilan Zechory in 2009. The three Yale students raised millions to back their company and have been involved in controversy surrounding publishing licenses for its content. Recently, the company worked with publishers and the National Music Publishers Association to help correct this issue.

Rap Genius was also targeted by Google within the last year for link schemes which impacted the company's standing with the search engine. Rap Genius returned to Google soon after being punished by the search engine. Their statement about the link issue included an apology to its readers and Google.

"To Google and our fans: we’re sorry for being such morons," the statement said. "We regret our foray into irrelevant unnatural linking. We’re focused on building the best site in the world for understanding lyrics, poetry, and prose and watching it naturally rise to the top of the search results." 

Lehman's full statement regarding Mahbod Moghadam's resignation, as printed on Rap Genius, is below: 

"Yesterday the Rap Genius community annotated Elliot Rodger’s manifesto on News Genius. Because this tragedy is still so raw, there was internal debate as to whether this document belonged on the site at all. Ultimately we decided that it was worthy of close reading – understanding the psychology of people who do horrible things can help us to better understand our society and ourselves.

"The current version of the annotated document is far from great, but the hope is that the annotations will improve over time as the story unfolds and it will eventually be a good resource for people looking to understand this tragedy.

"Almost all the annotations were at least attempting a close reading – they were genuinely, though imperfectly, trying to add context to the text and make it easier to understand.

"However, Mahbod Moghadam, one of my co-founders, annotated the piece with annotations that not only didn’t attempt to enhance anyone’s understanding of the text, but went beyond that into gleeful insensitivity and misogyny. All of which is contrary to everything we’re trying to accomplish at Rap Genius.

"Were Mahbod’s annotations posted by a new Rap Genius user, it would be up to our community leaders, who set the tone of the site and our approach to annotation, to delete them and explain to the new user why they were unacceptable.

"Were Mahbod’s annotations posted by a Rap Genius moderator, that person would cease to be an effective community leader and would have to step down.

"And Mahbod, our original community leader, is no exception. In light of this, Mahbod has resigned – both in his capacity as an employee of the company, and as a member of our board of directors, effective immediately.

"Mahbod is my friend. He's a brilliant, creative, complicated person with a ton of love in his heart. Without Mahbod Rap Genius would not exist, and I am grateful for all he has done to help Rap Genius succeed. But I cannot let him compromise the Rap Genius mission – a mission that remains almost as delicate and inchoate as it was when we three founders decided to devote our lives to it almost 5 years ago."

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  • Doubl Negative

    Our people are murdered every day and these deaths recieve no media coverage. A couple of whites get whacked and it makes front page news. Post-race America is a fallacy, not that I think people should integrate with each other against their will, but when these bastards who run the media automatically assume we all illicit empathy for whites who perish, but are indifferent to other races, it almost makes me think these kind of shootings are justified. Fuck these scumbags who perpetrate this myth.

    • d mac

      and Johnny D responds with prejudices and veiled bigotry you had another comment to respond to if you truly wanted an intelligent conversation but you took to expressing ignorance to combat hatred for ignorance pat yourself on the back "Johnny"

    • M

      black people don't care about their people getting killed, so why should white people?

    • Johnny D

      Justified? Wow. And that's the mentality that's keep y'all killing each other and feeling sorry for yourselves. U complain about the white man all the time but then expect the white man to help you. Why don't you help yourself seen as the white man doesn't give a fuck.

    • d mac

      naw son, they write it off as mental health so they don't address the problems in their social equality, they have to maintain that sense of "superiority" if it was a brother or mexican it would be assumed as gang violence, another would be an act of terrorism, political it would be gun control but never the conversation of the broken home absent father & mother (that BMV is a substitute for "good parenting"), the seclusion that doesn't have them ready for reality (you don't always get what you want), the "superiority" they impose on each other that includes serious bullying, the strong existence of drugs, the "they're a good person, always quiet" so they don't bother syndrome, their ineptitude to identify problem people (they don't all act out or have different skin tones) 1st thing was daddy is a movie producer (now a tragic, ISOLATED incident), 2nd how the cops patted him on the head before they said nothing to see here (the "didn't do their job right" scapegoat)

  • Anonymous

    Whilst the sister thing was just weird, I don't see how saying something is "beautifully written" is worth resigning over; even if it was written by a serial killer.

  • Anonymous

    HAHAHA thats what you get you persian trust fund hipster culture vulture.

    • most racism

      just more ignorance and hate. im sure their race and ethnicity is relevant here...what a shame

  • triPAUD

    I think they should have stopped at lyrics and stuff. Annotating news and articles is kinda silly cause they serve a different purpose.

  • Anonymous

    The manifesto itself was beautifully written in terms of the language used. The content was pretty ..wild white boy shit though.

  • Anonymous

    Does anybody know exactly what it was that he said?

    • reading is fundamental

      read the article: In his annotations, Moghadam says at least part of Rodger's document is "beautifully written" and that Rodger's sister is likely "smokin hot."

  • Anonymous

    I've been a regular contributor to that site since early 2011. Wasn't even aware that this guy existed lol

  • Anonymous

    dude fucked up, really dumb on his part

    • Anonymous

      hes been blowing it from the start, put out shitty freestyle raps and getting into beef with former xxl bloggers with nothing to do but clown him and his website all day for years.

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