Soulja Boy: Overnight Celebrity

by: Todd Davis

Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em, nee’ DeAndre Cortez Way, is rap music’s latest teen sensation. The Chicago, Illinois, by way of Hotlanta, GA, native burst onto the music scene with his chart-topping, smash hit lead single, ‘Crank That (Soulja Boy).’ The track, originally debuting at #47 on The Billboard Hot 100, has since risen to the #1 coveted spot, as Soulja Boy mania continues to heighten. Let the hysteria begin

First things first, your ‘official’ debut single & video, ‘Crank That (Soulja Boy),’ and it’s accompanying dance, has caused quite a major commotion — Were you surprised and/or taken aback by the massive success that this track has already achieved?

Soulja Boy: Yeah, I mean, when it first came out, I was like, “Wow!!” Like at first, it was just another song I was doing. It wasn’t even single material, ‘cause I was pushing another single. I put the single out, it did crazy numbers, and broke all kinds of records. On the digital market, it did 250,000 last week alone. It went platinum on the ring tones, platinum on those sales, and number one on the Billboard charts. I went platinum on the video sales, too, and everything really looks good for me right now. And, the album just dropped, and I’m trying to go platinum with that as well.

Who came up with the idea to put a dance, which is spreading like wildfire might I add with everyone from Beyonce’ to Samuel L. Jackson doing it, together to go along with this popular song?

Soulja Boy: The name of the dance is called the Soulja Boy. I did the dance…I was doing the dance once I made the beat for the song, before I actually laid my lyrics down. Then, I did the dance, and named it after my-self. So, that’s part of my marketing strategy, so everybody could know who I am, pick it up, and from there it was crazy.

How did Soulja Boy first get started rhyming?

Soulja Boy: Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em, man, started rapping I’d say around the summer 2005. I came to the internet thing summer 2006. Thirteen million views on the You Tube, twenty million plays on the My Space, and landed a deal at Interscope Records May the 15th. And, I shot the first video, and the song went number one around September.

Wasn’t it actually famed deejay/producer Mr. Collipark {Ying Yang Twins} who initially brought you to the powers-that-be over at Interscope Records?

Soulja Boy: Yeah, that’s correct, that’s correct. March, around March I recorded ‘Crank That Soulja Boy),’ sent it out on the internet as, like, Britney Spears, 50 Cent, Justin Timberlake. Like I sent my track out, and I renamed it like Britney Spears, 50 Cent, Michael Jackson, whatever, and everybody was downloading it thinking they was getting like 50 Cent. But, when they downloaded it, it was actually Soulja Boy, and they was like, “Who is this? ” So everybody was getting the ‘Crank That’ song, everybody, and it got like 13 million hits or whatever. That was around March. It took two months from me doing that for it to get so big as it did before the deal, without no radio play, when Mr. Collipark came. And, his label deal was at Interscope, and he took me to Interscope where I signed.

That’s a pretty clever way to get your music heard and out there to the masses — How did you come up with that idea?

Soulja Boy: I mean, it was just all about the way I wanted to get my music out there. I wanted to get it to certain crowds, like crowds that listen to Britney Spears or the crowd that listen to Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, 50 Cent, and I just picked the top names and just put ‘em out there. And, people were downloading like crazy, their fans or whatever, but when they got it, it was Soulja Boy. They’d be like,“Who is this dude right here?” So, then they went through Google search, Yahoo search, internet search, MY Space, to get to know about me, Soulja Boy.

Being that you are only seventeen years old, when did you actually realize that rapping would later become your livelihood?

Soulja Boy: It was like around the summer 2006 when I put my first song out, and the response we got was crazy. I mean, I took music serious after that.

Growing up, who were some of the artists that you listened to most?

Soulja Boy: Uh, growing up, man, I’m a big, big fan of 50 Cent, that was a big influence on my music career. And, I like to check up on him and see what’s going down. The first time I met him, I had a nice conversation with him, and he gave me advice on my music career as well.

Ironically enough, there’s a video that’s been circulating on the ‘net with you and 50, and it appears that he is trying to coerce you into going over to G Unit — What’s that all about?

Soulja Boy: Naw, naw, naw!! It’s just all love, ‘cause we both on Interscope. I’m not going to G Unit. My label is Stacks on Deck Entertainment, Collipark family, Stacks on Deck family, no G Unit or nothing like that. It’s just he was just a big influence on my career, and I wanted to sit down and talk with him or whatever, but it’s just like a big homey but it’s not no signing or nothing going on with G Unit.

How did your moniker come to fruition?

Soulja Boy: Soulja Boy, my mom gave me the name. And, right now, it’s Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em, because like on all of my songs I would say, “Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em,” before I’d start rapping, like I was referring to myself in the third person, like, “Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em,” then I’d just start rapping.

You titled your debut,…

Soulja Boy: Yeah, I named my album that because all of my success came from my website,, and I wanted everybody to know the story and I wanted everybody to see how the album was based on and how everything was going on with Soulja Boy.

It is my understanding that you handled a great deal of the album’s production as well…

Soulja Boy: Yeah, I produced 90% of my album, so I went in the studio with full creativity over my project. So, I sat down, which I was doing for each beat, for each song on my album, and I was just thinking of it, like, hit by hit. Like, after I produced ‘Crank That’ I knew I gotta come with something harder than that for the next one.

What is the driving force for you when you get in the studio to lay down a track?

Soulja Boy: I just draw inspiration from my fans. Like I check on my My Space, and get emails from them and see how they love my music so much. So, once I get into the studio, I pull out my Sidekick, write my raps down, and just have my fans in mind — I gotta please them.

As far as your actual career goes, the internet has been real good to you thus far, huh?

Soulja Boy: Yeah the internet and my die-hard fan base. And, I believe like it’s my drive, my consistency in the music game, like I won’t stop. It’s 100% work, and in the future we got, like, movies and a couple of ones that we’re working on right now — Like I met with Disney, Nickelodeon, and Paramount Pictures and Universal. I went over to L.A. being with all the movies directors ‘cause, I mean, I’ve been doing a lot, lot of work, so my agency they got a lot of that set up for me for the future. After, like, I do my music, then I can sit down with ‘em. So, it’s a lot of hard work.

Tell me more about all these other side ventures…

Soulja Boy: Yeah, yeah, like I just spoke on, I’m gonna do cartoons, and movies, the Soulja Boy ‘official’ shades that I’m coming out with, Soulja Boy clothing line and Soulja Boy shoes.

You pretty much got all your bases covered, don’t you?

Soulja Boy: Soulja Boy is bigger than the record. It’s bigger than the hype. It’s bigger than the dance. It’s 100% talent. But, I just want to let everybody know that my mind is set right. It goes a lot further than music it’s the business aspect of it as well. Besides, whether it’s; videos, or clothing lines, or video games or comic books or whatever, it is just to know that Soulja Boy is a brand.

Of course there’s also Stacks on Deck Entertainment — What are your future plans for the label?

Soulja Boy: Stacks on Deck Entertainment is progressing well — I have my artist, my solo artist, Arab, and we’ll have his album out as well.

I know it’s still very early on, the beginning if you will, but what has been your biggest Hip-Hop moment so far?

Soulja Boy: I would say winning my first Ozone award. — And, performing live with Kanye West at the VMA’s.

You literally just dropped your second single & video ‘Soulja Girl,’ correct?

Soulja Boy: Yeah, my‘official’ second single is called, ‘Soulja Girl,’ and I just took it to BET, and MTV TRL, so Y’all look for that. ‘Soulja Girl,’ we shot it in California at the Santa Monica mall. We shut the whole mall down. The video is crazy, so y’all look out for that — It’s gonna be big just like ‘Crank That’!!

I’ve also recently been hearing talks of a pretty big tour that you have in the works…

Soulja Boy: Yeah. Oh man, November, we got that Chris Brown tour, which is me, Chris Brown, Bow Wow, Sean Kingston and the Shop Boyz. Also, I’ll be doing some overseas touring in early 2008.

Any parting words?

Soulja Boy: I want to tell everybody (to) hit me on MySpace, and I (also) want to pay my respects to everybody at Jena Six (6).