The Bloods and the Crips were left without guidance after the Black Panther Party and the Civil Rights Movement were destroyed. And just like those kids without guidance, Soulja Boy is the result of Hip-Hop elders abandoning the movement long before he came and wrongfully putting the blame on him for the mess they created. Despite those obstacles, Soulja Boy has been a force since he bombarded the scene two years ago and showed his fellow MCs how to really make the Internet go nuts. But with any type of success, comes haters and problems. The 18-year old MC born De Andre Way recently talked with Hip-Hop Wired about the pitfalls of success, the now infamous robbery, as well as his journey to catch Jay-Z and 50-Cent on that ladder of success. Soulja Boy also goes in on his acting aspirations and addresses a few issues with the media and fellow MCs Snoop Dogg and Ice-T.
HipHopWired: Most MC’s are trying to be the hardest gangsta on the mic and over exaggerating their hood exploits. You happen to be one that actually came up hard and had to struggle. So in essence, you’re actually keeping it real so why don’t you choose to exploit your struggles in your music?
Soulja Boy: It’s a million rappers already doing that so why should I do that. It’s a million rappers trying to get out of the hood from places like where I’m from which is Zone 1, Simpson Road in Atlanta and Batesville, Mississippi. It’s Gangsta Disciples and Vice Lords in Batesville, Mississippi that ain’t never gone get to see the things that I got to see in my life. So what’s the point of me coming out here and speaking on that and glorifying that? Even though I don’t speak on those t situations I’ve been through in my life, they actually come back to haunt me.
Even though I try to stay away from that side of my life, my house still got kicked in and they ran in and tried to get me , that’s just like my past still following me. I’m out the hood, got money and being successful and I’m taking a different route but you still going to have that backlash of people who from where you from and they want what you got. But at the end of the day, I want people to see that it ain’t impossible for you to be where I’m at from me doing it in another way. From me doing YouTube interviews of me over in Tokyo, Japan or me going to buy Lamborghini cash. Just coming from where I’m from and not just getting up there saying I’m moving all these bricks to buy this whip or I’m doing all that to get a house. Nah, I’m saying I’m 18 years old and a self made millionaire before I turned 17 so I’m showing them another route of how they can get money and be successful too.
HipHopWired: Critics and artists alike are always crying saying that there’s not enough balance. It’s too gangsta and not enough conscious raps and want to diss those making music for the clubs. But it seems they forget the essence of Hip-Hop which was initially based on rocking the party and moving the crowd so how do you feel when they knock you for doing that?
Soulja Boy: Fu*k’em man. At the end of the day I make whatever kind of music I feel like making when I go into the studio. If it comes out a dance song, it’s a dance song. If it comes out a “Kiss Me Through The Phone,” then that’s what it is. If it’s me talking some gangsta Shyte, then that is what it is. But music is music, period. No matter what kind of music it is at the end of the day. What I do is music so if anybody knocking it or anybody don’t like it, Fawk them.
HipHopWired: You’re a student of the game but nobody wants to acknowledge that Hip-Hop was supposedly “messed” up before you arrived. Prior to you stepping on the scene, everybody was a hustler and making it rain and moving bricks and talking about different ways to get money. Now that you’ve arrived, everybody seems to want to knock you for following their footsteps like now it’s a crime to make dance music and get money. Where do you think the hate comes from because normally you would hear your fellow MCs saying, “Don’t knock the hustle?”
Soulja Boy: All the hate comes from success. After you see a person like me come from to nothing way over something in such a short amount of time, it’s going to generate a lot of interest to my situation. But I’m ok with that as long as I’m doing good, my peoples around me are doing good and I know that I still got fans around me that support me and like my music, then it’s a done deal. But once I got everybody saying we don’t like Soulja Boy’s music and we don’t want to hear it and I’m not selling nothing and nobody’s showing up to the concert, that’s when we have a problem.
HipHopWired: How did you feel about the media purposely misconstruing your words and running with a wrong statements to make headlines? For instance, when you said that Nas killed Hip-Hop by putting it out there. Any person with common sense knows you didn’t say Nas killed Hip-Hop but you were basically saying if you put something out there and keep screaming it then that’s where people’s attentions are going to focus to.
Soulja Boy: At the end of the day they take my words out of context so they can get hits for their sites and to create stories. It’s all good because they sensationalizing my comments to generate traffic and to get money so I know how the game goes so I don’t trip off it actually. I was never dissing Nas and at the end of the day I’m going to say what’s on my mind. They can take it and put it out there however they want to take it but if it gets to the point where it’s too bad, I’ll handle it myself. Even if I got to make a YouTube video and clarify what I meant or what I said, I’ll do that. If I got to call every radio station in the United States to clarify what I meant then I’ll do that to so ant the end of the day what I really said will come to light. And people will realize what I stand for.
HipHopWired: I think it’s a fair assessment to call you a leader in this new generation of Hip-Hop. With the way that record sales are down now across the board, what are the new ways for artist to generate income now outside of album sales and touring?
Soulja Boy: Me personally, I have a lot of different ways that I make money. When you talking about Soulja Boy and you speaking on revenue as far as my profits and how I make money on a daily, monthly and yearly basis, album sales is my last source of income. Even though my first album went platinum and my second album is like at 200-thousand copies, it’s still last. As far as being an artist in this day and age, it’s a lot of different revenue options they should know about. My first source of income comes from live shows and performances. When people book me for appearances, that’s money that’s forever going to be there especially with a song like “Crank That.” They’ll probably want to book me ten years from now to come and do that dance.
But outside of doing shows, there’s a lot people need to be hip to. I got my own label Stacks On Deck (S.O.D.) Entertainment. I got my artist Arab and Jabori. Like with my phone number, “The Say Now” number, the YouTube views, my clothing line Yums and shoes that’s in stores right now. I make money off my website, Souljaboytellem.com. Tellem.tv. There’s a lot of different fields you explore while you’re in your position. You have to strike while the fire is hot as far as the movies, television shows, iPhone applications, the ringtones. The list goes on but it’s just how far are you willing to go to keep your status and your name relevant. Not only in the music but just the entertainment industry as a whole.
HipHopWired: You seem to be utilizing Master P’s blueprint of capitalizing off everything while that #1 spot window is open for you. Have you ever had a conversation with P as far as what he did when he was in your position?
Soulja Boy: Yeah I am capitalizing off of everything but no, I’ve never had a conversation with Master P. I have had conversations with his son Romeo and we’ve met and kicked it a few times. Romeo is a homeboy of mine and we real cool. But nah, I haven’t had that conversation with Master P yet but I am looking forward to meeting him. I have had several conversations with Romeo though and he’s real cool people. He’s sheded some light onto my situation and has given me some advice about the Hip-Hop game and the entertainment industry period so it is what it is. Shout out to Romeo and Master P.
HipHopWired: When you create your songs, do you think about the concept first and how it can generate you more income?
Soulja Boy: It’s different situations for every song that I make. When I did “Kiss Me Thru The Phone,” it was not just about making that song. It was about incorporating my phone number into it. 678-999-8212 and right now I’m averaging 1.5 million people that’s calling that phone number that’s generating me at least six figures a year. So that’s where my mind frame was at when I was writing that particular song, it was to promote my phone number so people could call it and I could make money from it. Then after all that, I ended up doing a deal with Cricket Wireless and that wasn’t planned.
As far as “Crank That,” I wanted to make a song that would make everybody dance in the club and when it comes on everybody will get up and do this dance. So different things that I see make me create the music I make so it’s (not all from a promotional aspect.)
HipHopWired: You close out your album with “I Pray” which I feel lets people in on who DeAndre Way really is. It pretty much details your life struggle growing up and the problems that also come along with success and shows people that you could take it there if you want but you choose to keep the party rocking.
Soulja Boy: It was just to get a lot of stuff off my chest and to show people that I’m an average human just like everybody else. I went through the same situations that people are going through right now. I’m not going through them anymore but I have went through them and still have family that’s still going through it. At the end of the day, “I Pray” shows the reality of Soulja Boy and who I really am and to bring my fans in and give them a closer look at my life period.
HipHopWired: On the track, you also speak on groupies trying to railroad you with schemes of having your child so what’s the after math of all those claims.
Soulja Boy: Yeah when I first came out with “Crank That,” they were blowing me up real had saying I had this girl pregnant or whatever. They actually had a couple of girls on there so I was just speaking about that and when you get into certain situations, everybody wants something from you so that’s’ basically all I was saying. If they know you, they want something from you but won’t nothing to it though.
HipHopWired: You also did several tracks with Gucci Mane and one with Yo Gotti which shows that you get respect from the streets. How did your collaboration with Yo Gotti come about?
Soulja Boy: With me staying down in Batesville, Mississippi, That’s like 50- minutes from Memphis, Tennessee so down in my hood we don’t have no radio stations. So all we did was listen to Memphis which was K97 and they played Yo Gotti, all the old 3-6 Mafia, Lil Whyte and Frazier Boy. And Yo Gotti is the king down there and everybody listen to him so when I was staying down there, that’s what everybody was checking for. Then I met Yo Gotti when I was on the verge of rising up before I got signed and I gave him my mixtape and we eventually hooked up because him and my manger knew each other. He was the king of where I was staying at so once I blew all the way up and I got into the situation that I’m into now, I thought back to my roots and where I was really from. I was like man I got to put Yo Gotti and Gucci on my album. I don’t do songs with people just to be like oh that’s going to be big and sell. I did a song with them because I fu*ks with them. They are people that I’m a fan of and people that I listened to when I was in the hood that kept me going to grind and to get to where I’m at now. So I just went back and got them and we hooked it up.
HipHopWired: What’s the relationship like with your mentor Mr. ColliPark? He seems to let you do you and you don’t have to compete with him as say Bow Wow is forced to compete with Jermaine Dupri. He lets the artist be the artist.
Soulja Boy: Basically ColliPark is just the person who put me on. He’s the person who put me in the situation for me to get the money and that was it. He came down to Mississippi, then he flew me to L.A. and sat down and had a talk with me and he said, “Man, if this is what you want, then this is what I’m gone give to you.” He signed me up and I took the game from there and I just went and did my own thing with it. So ColliPark is the person who put me on so it’s not like a J.D. or Bow Wow situation where we’re around each other all the time. I may see ColliPark once every month or every other month. He just really gave me the game and a chance and I took it and ran with it.
HipHopWired: What’s next for your label Stacks On Deck?
Soulja Boy: Right now I’m in the studio working on Arab’s debut album. He got that “Pass It To Arab” DVD that’s coming real soon. I got Jabar, he’s dropping his album this year and his single is on iTunes right now and he sold 10,000 in two days. The single is called “Hey, What’s Up” so ya’ll go cop that from my homeboy Jabar and hopefully we drop the group album, S.O.D. Money Gang this year. My third solo album is dropping so that’s what we got popping off this year under S.O.D. Entertainment.
HipHopWired: What’s up with Sammie? He’s really doing his thing on the “Kiss Me Thru The Phone” hook.
Soulja Boy: I’m in the works of actually trying to put his R&B album out. I’m trying to get him over here on my label S.O.D. Ent. So we working that out right now so ya’ll might, I’m not going to conform it, but ya’ll might see a Sammie album and solo single coming this year as well.
HipHopWired: You have been spending a lot of time out in L.A. so what’s popping with you on the acting tip?
Soulja Boy: I’m was on the TV show “The Game” and my character was called Ray-Ray and The Game is on the CW Network and BET so ya’ll be on the lookout for that. I’m going to be on the big screen this year as far as movies and T.V. shows go but “The Game” is the only thing I can spill right now. I also performed on Snoop Dogg’s TV Show, “Dogg After Dark.” I performed my new single “Turn My Swag On” and did an interview with Snoop.
HipHopWired: What was the conversation like with Snoop after he initially dissed you some time back on Jamie Foxx’s radio show and called “Crank That” some bullShyte?
Soulja Boy: I didn’t think he was dissing me but it was more so the song and he didn’t get it at first. But after a while he saw I was about my business so I didn’t even bring that up. He’s an O.G. and he gave me a lot of advice about the industry once we met. He was also like we need to get in the studio and make a song together. I fu*ks with you real hard, you a real artist out here getting money and you got it on lock like that so I wouldn’t even bring that type of situation up after him showing me that much love and bringing me on his T.V. show and showing me in a positive light. Because usually, people try to show me in a negative light so for him to show me that much love, I never even brought the situation up or gave any more thought about it so it is what it is.
HipHopWired: Have you and Ice-T ever spoken since your Internet sparring, not necessarily on a beef tip but just on him giving some advice on the game and acting and having longevity?
Soulja Boy: Nah I’ve never spoke to Ice-T ever in my life. But I would, we could sit down and have a conversation. If he wanted to have a conversation and shed some light on my situation or give me some advice on the game, that definitely can happen.
HipHopWired: Where does the calm demeanor come from regarding how you deal with these media tactics as well as the negative comments from some of your fellow MCs?
Soulja Boy: Because it is what it is and at the end of the day everybody in the world ain’t going to like you or your music and want to see you succeed. In this day and time, people are all about theirselves and we got enough problems going on in our lives to stop and worry about the next man. I got to feed my family, you got to feed yours. I got to make my money and you have to make yours. But at the end of the day, it’s what it is…Life. You can’t cry about it and dwell on it so I just got to do me and keep being successful and move on. Only so much can happen through words so it is what it is?
HipHopWired: Daddy Mack from Kriss Kross recently spoke about Jermaine Dupri taking them through the cleaners and that he spoke to your people about making sure you didn’t fall into the same traps since you came into the game young as well. Did ya’ll speak personally yet?
Soulja Boy: Nah I didn’t see that and I didn’t speak to him either. But at the end of the day, I may be just 18 but I’m a young boss. I got lawyers on deck and I make sure I’m getting all my paper. Because at the end of the day, if you try to get over on me, you’re going to get fired. I make sure all my money is handled properly and I’m getting what I’m supposed to get. With me having that mentality, I know 10 years from now I’m still going to be a millionaire. But that’s how it is though; you have to be all about your business. Me being famous and being “Mr. Crank That” and “Superman” is all well and good but at the end of the day if I’m not getting all the profits and what I’m supposed to be getting then we got a serious problem. I don’t care who you are.
HipHopWired: So with you being your own boss, what type of effect has President Obama being elected had on you as far as being a progressive Black businessman and were you at the inauguration?
Soulja Boy: Actually on the day of the inauguration I was in Cali because I was doing the Jimmy Kimmel show that night so I wasn’t able to be in D.C. in person. Barack being elected was history and Black history at that and it’s a day in time where anything is possible. But to me, anything is possible has always been the way I looked at life even since I was little. So once we got a Black president, it basically confirmed that my thoughts on life are true. I think anything is possible so for me to be in the hood broke with $0 dollars and for me to think I can become a millionaire or billionaire like 50 Cent or Bill Gates, I had to have a big imagination now look at me know. Everything I dreamed about came true so for us to have a Black President, that’s just adds on to how I’m thinking about life, anything is possible. It may sound corny and cliché but if you put your head to it, you can do it and that’s real talk.