clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

What the Team at Genius Wears to Work

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

In just six years, the tech startup Genius has grown from a hip-hop lyric website (it was formerly called Rap Genius) to the world's biggest collection of song lyrics of all genres. Not only does the Brooklyn media property include thousands of pop, R&B, and country tracks in its database, but it also features similar annotations for literature, film, sports, and even Obama's State of the Union addresses.



Despite all this impressive growth, Genius still remains true to its musical roots — a quality reflected in its staff's individual style and a new partnership with Spotify, where artists like Pusha T and Tinashe annotate their own lyrics on dedicated playlists. We stopped by the company's Gowanus loft to quiz them on their coolest concert tees, style inspiration, and, of course, favorite lyric of all time.


Lila Murphy, Operations, is wearing a vest by Alexander Wang, a T-shirt by Fruit of the Loom, BLK DNM jeans, Cole Haan shoes, a Gogo necklace, and Nars lipstick.

Which musician has the best style out there right now?
Le1f is really crushing it, holy hell. Get on his Instagram right now!

How would you describe your style?
"Gallerina Swag Boy."

Who would you swap wardrobes with in a heartbeat, living or dead?
Michael Jackson. Those jackets. Those socks. That "Rock With You" video look.

What's your theme song?
"U Got the Look" by Prince.


John Kennedy, Editor, is wearing a shirt from Armani Exchange, Gap x GQ Stampd jeans, Converse sneakers, and a G-Shock watch.

What's your favorite song lyric of all time and why?
"I’m like Che Guevara with bling on, I’m complex" — Jay Z, "Public Service Announcement." I’m a Gemini, so I can relate.

How would you describe your style?
Hip-hop flavor with a touch of prep. I’ve always liked mixing streetwear with classic American style. I like streetwear brands like 10.Deep and Akoo paired with Ralph Lauren or Express.

Who would you swap wardrobes with in a heartbeat, living or dead?
Definitely Cam’ron. Where else could I find designer capes and minks in purple or pink?

How long does it take you to get ready for work?
Way longer than I’d ever admit.


Jael McCants, Content Partnerships Associate, is wearing a turtleneck and pants from American Apparel, a thrifted Anne Klein blouse, John Fluevog boots, a Treasury Vintage Boutique earring, an heirloom necklace, and Warby Parker glasses.

Which musician has the best style out there right now?
I don’t necessarily think he has the best fashion yet, but I like that Young Thug cares about "expensive fabric."

How has working at Genius influenced your style?
A big artist recently came by Genius and he and I were basically wearing the same outfit, except his white tee was a thousand times fresher. This was a bummer, but now I know to step my game up when famous people are around. Maybe the dingy white tee is part of my real personal brand. Maybe "I’m in between but way more fresher." I also credit our founders, Tom and Ilan, for putting me on to Nike Air Maxs.

What's the best part about working at Genius?
Talking with artists about their music is probably the coolest part about working at Genius. I have a hilarious voicemail on my phone from E-40 calling because some of his lyrics were wrong on the site. I was on a bus home from Ikea with my brother at the time and I called E-40 back and fixed his lyrics.


Ezra Glenn, Artist Relations Associate, is wearing an Elliott shirt, Levi’s jeans, Adidas shoes, Nike x Genius socks, an Alessi watch, and Anne et Valentin glasses.

How has working at Genius influenced your style?
I've made my wardrobe speak for me. At its heart, Genius is a project about expression and thinking deeply about things you might not necessarily give a heartbeat thought. So whether it's a Lil Wayne lyric or a piece of clothing, there's always more than meets the eye — a story behind what you see on the surface. I used to dress way more basic, but I've learned that what I'm wearing is part of my narrative.

What's your favorite song lyric of all time and why?
"NY rose me, most high chose me" from Azealia Banks's "1991." I love her. The lyric's grammatically incorrect — it should be "NY raised me," but that just doesn't sound as good, so she goes with "rose," which I hear as a nod to Nas swapping in "broze" for "breezed" at the end of "One Love."

What's your go-to work uniform?
I try to live my life free from uniforms. If I'm not switching it up, then I'm not being real. I love comfortable shoes that can handle the rain, acid-washed denim and oversized t-shirts. But you won't clock me in a repeat look unless I didn't go home the night before.


Jenn Scheer, Designer, is wearing an Eileen Fisher tunic, Levi’s jeans, a Majendie necklace, ASOS boots, The Dollar Store earrings, and Catbird rings.

What's your favorite song lyric of all time and why?
"What she asked of me at the end of the day Caligula would have blushed / 'Oh, you've been in the house too long,’ she said / And I naturally fled" — The Smiths, "Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now." Caligula was a Roman emperor known for being sexually deviant and a tyrant. I've always loved the idea of a girl confronting celibate Morrissey with something so shocking to his senses that he literally ran away. What do you think she said?!

How would you characterize your personal style?
I would call my style "minimal-street."

What three songs are currently on rotation on your playlist?
"Andalucia" by John Cale, "Cherry-Coloured Funk" by Cocteau Twins, and "Kill V. Maim" by Grimes.

What's your favorite concert tee that you own, and why?
I don't really own any anymore, but I do have a sick New Order tee that belonged to an old friend's ex-girlfriend who we all disliked. It's not soft enough yet, so I keep washing it. Someday.


Teresa Fardella, Executive Assistant, is wearing a Genius x to.be custom shirt, American Apparel jeans, Forever 21 boots, Warby Parker glasses, a Miansai cuff, and a Baby G watch.

What's your theme song?
Anything by Ariana Grande. I love her.

How has working at Genius influenced your style?
I’m more fearless with my style. Working for a website that’s so focused on music, we constantly have artists coming in and out of the office, most of whom have a pretty singular style. Being surrounded by them and representing such a cool company inspires me to make more of a statement with what I wear, and have fun with it.

What's one item of clothing you can never have too much of?
Good jeans.

Who would you swap wardrobes with in a heartbeat, living or dead?
Rihanna, but only if I looked as good in her clothes as she does. Or maybe Jane Birkin. I love classic and comfortable with a bit of panache.


Rob Markman, Artist Relations Manager, is wearing a LRG hat, a Polo jacket, a Hawke & Dumar Co. jacket, Express pants, and Timberland boots.

Which musician has the best style out there right now?
I'm really into Nas' style; I think he has mastered a very mature street look. In hip-hop we never want to seem too old. I don't know that I'll ever dress in a suit and tie every day, but Nas is 42 and can walk into any boardroom or in the Queensbridge Housing Projects and never look out of place. It isn't about big logos and brands with him, but a nice contour fit without being too tight or stiff.

What's one item of clothing you can never have too much of?
Varsity jackets. I didn't make the basketball team in high school — I went to a city college and never lived on campus — so maybe I'm searching for that collegiate experience that I never had. I don't know the psychology behind it, but I'm obsessed with varsity jackets. The look is so timeless.

Who would you swap wardrobes with in a heartbeat, Living or dead.
The Notorious B.I.G. — of course, I would just need smaller sizes. Being from Brooklyn, I always looked up to Big. The silk Versace shirts, the colorful Coogi sweaters, and the gold Jesus piece are iconic street fashion staples. Big made all of that cool.


Caroline Duffy, Finance and Administration Manager, is wearing a Tylho dress, Calvin Klein tights, Dolce Vita shoes, street vendor necklace and ring, Anthropologie earrings, and Essie nail polish.

How has working at Genius influenced your style?
Being around such edgy and artistic style every day has actually made me more comfortable with my own personal style, which is decidedly not edgy. I’m almost aggressively un-cool when it comes to some of my fashion choices —I lean toward simple, traditional pieces and I shop at a lot of chain stores — but Genius is this funny place that encourages you to be completely authentic to your personal brand. My personal brand just happens to include more shift dresses than you’d normally see at a tech startup in Brooklyn, and that’s totally cool. Here, you don’t feel like you need to dress for anyone but yourself.

What's your favorite song lyric of all time and why?
"It’s Britney, bitch" is a lyric that lives within me at all times, which I feel requires no explanation.

How would you describe your style?
Classic and feminine, with a touch of glitter.


Lisa Wray, Android Developer & Engineer, is wearing 7 For All Mankind jeans, an AllSaints Spitalfields sweater, a Gap Body tank, a custom necklace, an Etsy ring, and American Apparel socks.

How has working at Genius influenced your style?
It hasn't influenced my style, but it's encouraged me to resume having one at all. The team here has a ton of individuality and very little of the jeans-and-tech t-shirt uniform. I'm a developer — the public face I present to the world is the code I write. So what I wear is something I do for myself.

What three songs are currently on rotation on your iTunes/Spotify playlist?
Well, first of all, I purchased Adele's album on Google Play Music, ok? I'm an Android developer, and Spotify doesn't have it yet. I'm loving "I Miss You" by Adele. That song was written to be remixed for the club. I also adopted an electric keyboard from our last office when we moved, so I'm trying to rediscover what I like at the piano.

It's funny to say I miss music at a music company, but being surrounded by it isn't the same as playing yourself. My favorites have always been Chopin and Schumann, but I recently discovered Satie's Gymnopedies. That, and badly interpreting Adele on solo piano when I'm home alone.

What's the best part about working at Genius?
Autonomy and creative control. It's rare to get to make so many big decisions—everything from what's inside, to how I manage releases, to what the app looks like. Whatever I dream up, I usually get to build.



Mat Brown, Engineering Lead, is wearing Frank & Oak shirt and pants, SeaVees shoes, and an ASOS jacket.

Who would you swap wardrobes with in a heartbeat, living or dead?
Britt Daniel, the lead singer of Spoon.

How has working at Genius influenced your style?
Working here has mostly inspired me to step up my game, because so many of my colleagues look so cool every day. I’m definitely more conscious about bringing the best possible version of my normal-guy-in-Park Slope look.

What's one item of clothing you can never have too much of?
Lincoln chinos from Frank & Oak. At any given time, I own three to four pairs of these pants in different colors. I wear little else on my bottom half.

How long does it take you to get ready for work?
Two to three minutes? It’s really just a question of: what color pants did I wear yesterday? OK, different color pants today. Then a sweater that goes with those pants.



Farewell From Racked

Best of Racked

Best of Racked Essays

Best of Racked

Best of Racked Funny Stuff