The genre of hip hop has evolved through many phases since its birth into the music industry during the 1970s. Stemming from its roots in the Bronx, hip hop was able to influence music lovers from all areas of the world. One of those people happened to be an Atlanta native by the name of DeAndre Cortez Way, which would soon be known to the world as Soulja Boy. In 2007, Soulja made his way into the hearts of millions of children and young adults with his grammy-nominated debut single “Crank That (Soulja Boy)”. From then on, the music industry as we know it would be changed forever.
Although DeAndre was ahead of his time, his older peers often criticized him, deemed him a one-hit wonder, and even went as far as to say he was “killing hip hop”. That didn’t stop Soulja Boy, because he went on to becoming one of the biggest, most innovative artists in the music industry. He used the internet to his advantage and was able to take the world by storm with his catchy songs paired with simple dance moves. Today’s viral songs and dance crazes like Blocboy JB’s “Shoot” & “The Woah” would be completely nonexistent if it weren’t for Soulja Boy being a martyr for modern day hip hop.
Soon after 2007, the rest of the music industry began to follow the path that Soulja Boy was leading. Thousands of new dances and infectious song cadences started to flood the airwaves and of course, the internet. Now, at this point in time, social media is the most important element of building a fan base as an artist. Yet and still, DeAndre has not been given the credit he deserves amongst his peers. Agitated and fed up, Soulja Boy begins to lash out against them on the internet. Literally, all of them. When we look back in time in a historical context to the hip hop pioneers of the 2000-2020’s, we will realize Soulja Boy and Ray J hit it (everything) first.
Internet beefing and trolling was a slight thing at that moment, but this is also something that Soulja Boy was able to take to new heights. It was so serious, that a fight between the Crank That rapper and Chris Brown was supposed to ensue (and yes, I was going to attend). Although it never happened, new rappers seen this as a way to attract attention, and internet beefing/trolling grew into what it is today. Recently, Soulja Boy has been back in the limelight for those same reasons, but also to defend his name. Artists like Drake, Tyga, and Kanye West are just a few of the people who received jabs from Young Drako in the past couple of weeks. In an interview with The Breakfast Club, Soulja reveals how Drake stole his lyrics and flow from a song titled “What’s Hannenin’” for his single, Miss Me. It’s no secret that Mr. Graham tends to take a bar or 2 from rappers that he admires, but DeAndre was not flattered, to say the least.
The Breakfast Club interview was extremely viral, thanks to the platform that he created, and now everyone is starting to give him the homage he so rightfully deserves. It’s almost impossible to ignore the impact and influence that Soulja Boy had, not only in the hip hop world, but in the music industry as a whole. Youtube, music streaming services, viral dances, and even any rapper who embarked on a career after 2009 owe Soulja Boy a huge thank you for ultimately, taking one for the team. It’s so appropriate that Soulja began selling the Soulja Console recently, because in reality this is all a game he invented years ago; video clips going viral, songs equipped with dances, guerilla online music marketing, trolling, and we’re all just playing in it.