If you are one of those readers who remains confused about the relationship between Rap Genius and Poetry Brain, Adam Mansbach, our first Verified Novelist (WORD?!), might be the one to school you. His fiction brings the poetics of hip hop to the page like few other contemporary writers, and thus his prose mixes together the varied aesthetic elements that make up the ever-expanding Poetry Brain-Rap Genius literary world view: great literature, and rap music as great literature. Listen for yourself: the first chapter of Mansbach’s latest novel, Rage is Back, is now on Rap Genius with verified explanations from the author, along with the audiobook version featuring Danny Hoch.
Mansbach’s first book was in fact a collection of poetry entitled genius b-boy cynics getting weeded in the garden of delights (Subway & Elevated Press, 2001)–check out the poem “still life moving” at Rap Genius for a taste. Hip hop scholar Eric Michael Dyson, who taught Mansbach while the author attended Columbia University, writes of his former student that he is “equally comfortable with high cultural classicism and vernacular vibrations.” This is true of Mansbach’s novels too; like a DJ, he mixes together cultural traditions from ancient Greece to the South Bronx. Mansbach is at once a product of Columbia’s Core Curriculum and the canon of hip hop music. Rage is Back, like Mansbach’s earlier works of fiction, might be labeled a hip hop novel, or using a term the author himself has coined, “lit hop”—check out his essay on the emergent genre at Rap Genius. In “On Lit Hop,” Mansbach writes:
I like to think of a novel in terms of a mix board…My goal is to write fiction that works the same way: that builds layers of reference and meaning and plot and dialogue and character, tweaks the levels of the mix for smooth reading but still allows you to dissect the individual elements and analyze them.
We at Poetry Brain are so excited that Mansbach dropped his first chapter from Rage is Back on Rap Genius, along with number of enlightening explanations of the text on everything from his own creative process as a writer to the early history of graffiti in New York City. Along with the publication and annotation of our first Verified Poet Joshua Mehigan’s “Sad Stories,” we believe this may be a new form of publication and publicity for both emerging and established authors. If you are a writer who is interested in showcasing your work in a new and dynamic way—interacting with readers and fans through annotations of your own texts—please get in touch with us.