In some ways Soulja Boy is a pioneer. He pioneered this turnout music that we listen to today. Of course, at 17 years old he flipped the dance craze on its head with “Crank That” and has tried effortlessly ever since to stay in the public eye. He almost won a Grammy off of that song and it was one of the first Hip hop dances to infiltrate all cultures. It spearheaded the digital age being the first single to sell 3 million copies digitally. Tellem was a brilliant marketer for a teenager, being the first to capitalize off of MySpace + YouTube, and going as far as naming his first album SouljaBoyTellEm.com. His ability to promote himself was astounding but due to the quality everyone speculated he would be a 1 hit wonder.
He proved this wrong with his second album that had the memorable songs “Thru The Phone” & “Turn My Swag On”. So he was a new wave of Swag Rap, where being braggadocious was key, while featuring little of anything else of substance. This continued when on the next album he released the just as catchy “Pretty Boy Swag”. And though some may venture to wonder how he stayed relevant- it was not easy for him. He went through a string of singles that missed with audiences and became tracks on numerous mixtapes. After this one of the most notable things he put out was “We Made It” with Drake, where Drake remixed a song off of his “The King” tape and “Yaaas Bish” w/ Nicki Minaj. But calling in the king and queen of hip-hop for an assist is practically cheating. After that the public saw an increase in both mixtapes and albums due to his recent independence.
People who have a disdain for Soulja Boy often cite his lack of flow, shambles together beats and minimal lyrical skill. He also certainly classifies as a “Would You Take A Break Please” Rapper as he has released over 37 mixtapes, 2 sold EPs and 6 albums (7 but I wanted to mention Ignorant Shit with Bow Wow seperately). He turned southern snap rap on its head and lead the way in the repetative movement that is HipHop hooks thesedays. Everything about the guys music is simple. He’s the type to charge for retweets, 2-4 dollars to be exact. Again, he started that upbeat; party themed music that has evolved into what hip-hop is today.
But he has also made decent business decisions. Stacks-on-Deck-Music-Group has helped propelled artists like Lil B and Riff Raff into the eye of the mainstream before they left the label due to it not being very hands-on. His behind the board work is notable because, though it isn’t much, he has produced for some big names In the industry. He also released Stacks-on-Deck Money Gang clothing which faltered within the first few years of inception. But that happens to all rappers, his recent Ocean Gang & BLVD. Supply lines seem to be faring much better. He also briefly had a deal with popular shoe company YUMs, that have some of the flyest colors on sneakers since BAPES. Now he has the SBEEZY Lights. He’s also had his own cartoon, which only ever aired the pilot and a documentary that was panned by critics. His videos barely ever crack 200k in view but that is enough of a fan base to make money touring. And we can’t highlight his accomplishments without mentioning the World Poker Fund who signed him to a deal and he falsely claimed it was for 400 million dollars. Yet in the end, Soulja is still worth about 23 million
How could one man take so many Ls? We haven’t even gotten to his recent laundry list of 2016 beefs. He hasnt won a single award since 2009, not even a BET award. Most of the cars he beefs with are young artists who are doing a much better job with his style and fan base. A platinum first album and gold second album can get a good promoter far in life. It is obvious he grinds and is behind a decline (as far as old heads are concerned.. Ice T anyone?) in Hip Hop as a whole but the Boy is still a consistent punch line. He helped start the divide where its old verse new now it used to be Anti-Flag vs his Swag movement. But The Music Business isn’t always about musical talent.
Soulja isn’t stupid though, he was then what they are now and we watch as he struggles, not being appreciated in his time. He was an Internet rapper who made a hit in 10 minutes. Who would throw shit at the wall and see what stuck into it. It is also rumored that he is ill at freestyling whole verses off top. He has always been smart, brushing off what does not work and rapidly moving to try something that will. He is a businessman sticking his pen in all the ink from hookah pens to an appearance on Love & HipHop – He’s Out Here. But he let’s his emotions get to him, which happens to young men who get rich quickly. He’s beefing with his own people, those currently occupying the lane he created. Going to jail for brandishing guns on the Internet while on probation for gun issues. The legacy of Soulja Boy Tell Em might always be a clown of a rapper, but he’s rich wearing that jester collar.