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Rap Genius’ Mahbod Moghadam Resigns After Making Inappropriate Annotations on Killer’s Manifesto

Mahbod Moghadam
Brian Ach, Getty Images

Rap Genius, one of the internet’s most popular websites dedicated to annotating hip-hop song lyrics, is starting the week off on a bad note. Mahbod Moghadam may have helped launch one of rap music’s most visited sites, but he won’t have anything more to do with the company.

On Sunday (May 25), Moghadam made some extremely inappropriate annotations to a 141-page manifesto of Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old who gunned down six people in California last week.

The annotations have since been removed, but screenshots have made their way around the Internet.

“Elliott barely mentions his sister Georgia throughout the book,” wrote Moghadam. “Towards the end, however, he tells us that they did not get along and becomes extremely angry when he hears her having sex with her boyfriend. My guess: His sister is smoking hot.”

Besides the annotations, Moghadam chose to praise Rodger for his writing style.

Soon after, Rap Genius started getting all kinds of negative feedback, and it didn’t take long for Moghadam to announce his resignation. However, there are reports that he was actually fired.

“I was fascinated by the fact that a text was associated with such a heartbreaking crime,” said the ousted co-founder in a statement. “Especially since Elliot is talking about my neighborhood growing up. I got carried away with making the annotations, and making any comment about his sister was in horrible taste. Thankfully the Rap Genius community edits out my poor judgement. I am very sorry for writing it.”

Tom Lehman, one of the site’s other co-founders, said Moghadam not only showed insensitivity to those affected by the crime, but he also hurt the Rap Genius brand.

“Yesterday the Rap Genius community annotated Elliot Rodger’s manifesto on News Genius,” wrote Lehman. “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.”

“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.”

Despite his actions, Lehman said he still considers Moghadam a friend and is thankful to him for his early contributions to the site.

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