The Ambitious Young MC Silences the Critics and Addresses the Haters
Known as the dude who sleeps on Gucci sheets and walks on a Louis Vuitton rug, nineteen year old DeAndre Way, better known as Soulja Boy, is also synonymously known as the MySpace and YouTube phenomenon who spit “Crank That” and produced it in just 30 minutes. Soulja Boy first sent cyberspace into a frenzy with his catchy tracks, garnering well over 10 million hits on his YouTube and MySpace page. Shortly thereafter the entire world was sent into a frenzy once they heard the infectiously up-tempo “Crank That,” and soon every one from your momma, to the little boy and girl next door, wanted to master Soulja Boy’s famous moves in his “Crank That” music video. Soulja Boy became one of the first artists to gain world wide recognition by millions through the net.
All of the hype surrounding his prolific presence on the Internet caught Interscope’s attention, and when he was just sixteen years old, the ambitious producer, rapper, and entrepreneur’s dreams turned into a reality, as he signed his first record deal with a major label. Soon thereafter, Soulja Boy’s buzz single, “Crank That” skyrocketed to number one on the Billboard Hot 100, with his first studio album, Souljaboytellem.com, debuting at number four on the Billboard charts.
Despite his impressive overnight success, some cynics continued to murmur that Soulja Boy’s career was only limited to commercial appeal.
And Soulja Boy’s response was? ‘I got a question, why they hatin’ on me? I had to prove ‘em wrong, got back in the studio and came up with another hit!’
So one year later, he came back with his second number one single,
“Kiss Me Thru the Phone” featuring Sammie. The song appeared on Soulja Boy’s second album, iSouljaboytellem, followed by his third hit, “Turn My Swag On” which sold well over one million digital downloads in the US alone.
With his hand in major endorsement deals such as a shoe and clothing line, and his third studio album, The DeAndre Way, already in progress, it’s unquestionable that Soulja Boy is coming back with a vengeance. Like his rapping career, he is also one of the most sought after producers with his name already in the production credits for the likes of Bow Wow, V.I.C., and more recent additions to his roster with Kanye West, Jaime Foxx, and Chris Brown.
It’s obvious, there’s no turning this dude’s swag off.
Parlé: What was your initial reaction to your overnight success?
Soulja Boy: I was shocked and excited. I didn’t think about it at first, you know, ‘cause I was just making music. I stay focused because this is what I always wanted to do. I always dreamt of this, and everything that I am doing now, is a dream come true. I don’t want to lose it, so my grind never ends.
Parlé: So tell me how you landed your record deal with Interscope and Collipark records?
Soulja Boy: In the beginning, I didn’t have a lot of means. I started out producing my own songs on this PC my cousin gave me, and I started burning them on CD. Soon after that, I found out about MySpace. I realized that the internet never sleeps, so I decided to make a MySpace page and YouTube page because music was spreading 100 times faster. Mr. Collipark had heard one of my songs, and heard about my 10 million following, and contacted me directly to see if it was for real. He met with me and signed me on the spot. Then a few weeks later, I got the deal with Interscope. Every thing happened so fast—as soon as the “Crank that” video dropped, everyone around the world was crankin’ off the “Crank that” dance, and Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em. (Laughs)
Parlé: It’s indisputable that the rate of speed your career has taken off, and continued to flourish, is almost surreal. (Laughs) So, how does it feel to have arrived, to be the first MySpace phenomenon to have made it big?
Soulja Boy: It feels great to be the first. It’s a wonderful feeling. (Laughs) I hope there will be others to accomplish their goals like me; whether it’s on the Internet or not.
Parlé: What’s your family life like now, at home are you still DeAndre Way, or are you Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em, the superstar?
Soulja Boy: Growing up, I had it good. I grew up in ATL, and later moved to Mississippi. When I was younger, my family and I moved around a lot. And although I lived in Mississippi for awhile, I still rep ATL ‘cause that’s where I’m originally from. Now as for the way my fam treats me; it’s crazy! (Laughs) I mean, some of my family still treats me the same, and then some treat me differently, and act like I’m the bank, and are always asking me for money! (Laughs)
Parlé: What struggles have you encountered since breaking into the music industry?
Soulja Boy: I wouldn’t say it’s much of a struggle, but more so a challenge ‘cause before I got signed, there were always the haters. A lot of people may not know this, but in the beginning, while I was working on my music, I was working at Burger King. At the time, people at my job knew I was into rapping. My manager used to try and stop me from doing radio interviews; she would try to discourage me by saying that my songs like “Yahhh,” and “Shoot Out” didn’t make any sense. And as you can imagine she was mad as hell when I made 40,000 in just one weekend, performing at a venue! (Laughs) I came back to work and I was like, ‘I’m out!’ Being able to quit that job was the greatest feeling in the world! (Laughs)
Parlé: So tell me about some of your latest projects. I’ve been hearing quite a lot of hype about your expansion of the Soulja Boy brand. . . .
Soulja Boy: Yessir, I got my Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em Signature Shoe released through Yums available in stores right now. It can be purchased at Finish Line and Yumsshop.com. Also be on the look out for more coming from the Yums collaboration—I will be designing my very own Yums “Block Star” sneakers and clothing line, along with Tex, a designer and graffiti artist. The entire endorsement with Yums came about when I met up with Yum in Dallas, Texas. We had a meeting and we just linked up from there. I also got the cartoon out right now, Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em: The Animated Series, with my co-star, Alfonso Ribeiro from the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Originally, I was gonna do a TV show like the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” but due to my schedule I didn’t have the time, so I decided to go with the cartoon instead. I always wanted to do a cartoon, and this is just another way to bring something real to my fans.
Parlé: Sounds like somebody’s gonna be the next big mogul before they turn twenty. (Laughs) Is there anyone in particular in the industry that has inspired you to do what you do? I mean, you are killing it man—with the endorsement deals, the clothing line, the platinum album. . . .
Soulja Boy: 50 cent is a big inspiration. I admire his business savvy. That dude’s killing it. He’s got the movies, the endorsements, the clothing. As far as the music end of things, I look up to Birdman. I look up to him because he is boss. He cuts checks, spends big dollars. The first check he cut through Cash Money from Universal was for 100 million. Birdman is definitely a huge inspiration.