- Soulja Boy (b. DeAndre Cortez Way on July 28, 1990) is a rapper best known for “Crank That (Soulja Boy)”
- He also found success with “Miss Me Thru The Phone,” “Turn My Swag On,” and “Pretty Boy Swag.”
- In 2023, he was invited to take part in BET’s celebration of Hip-Hop’s 50th birthday.
Long before TikTok and SoundCloud rap, there was Soulja Boy, arguably the first Internet rapper. Finding success on the website SoundClick and going viral thanks to a dance associated with his debut single, Soulja Boy (DeAndre Way) showed the possibility of what the Internet could do with hip-hop. That’s arguably why he’s invited to take part in the 2023 BET Awards’ tribute to Hip-Hop turning 50.
The mythos around hip-hop is that the genre was born during a 1973 house party held at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx. Thrown by DJ Kool Herc, the celebration gave a date and address as the birthplace of hip-hop, and as such, the BET Awards will recognize all those who helped make the genre what it is today. On June 25, stars like E-40, Big Daddy Kane, Chief Keef, MC Lyte, Tyga, Trick Daddy, The Sugarhill Gang, Fat Joe, and others will team up for a tribute to the genre at 50.
As to why Soulja Boy deserves a spot among those heavyweights, read on.
He Attempted To Sell A Video Game Console.
In December 2018, Soulja released the SouljaGame (and the SouljaGame Handheld) and while it advertised that these games would run Playstation, PC, SEGA, Nintendo, and NEOGEO games (while coming with anywhere from 800 to 3000 built-in games), which raised a few eyebrows from gamers who suspected these consoles weren’t legit. Amid threats of a lawsuit from Nintendo, per Dot ESports, Soulja Boy pulled the consoles, but on Jan. 12, he released the SouljaGame Handheld, which looks similar to a PlayStation Vita. These were supposedly rebranded emulators instead of a new system, per IGN, and in 2019, he stopped selling them completely.
“Honestly, I feel that everything is 100% legit and there will be no reason for any legal ramifications or anything like that,” he said to Rolling Stone about the video game controversy. “Honestly, I don’t have any worries at all, any concerns, because everything we’re doing is legit. It’s been researched. Everything has been basically confirmed that it’s a green light and we’re good. It’s partly the people from the outside looking in, that aren’t understanding the type of deals that were made behind the scenes that are worried.”
He Made It Big Off A Viral Dance Hit Long Before TikTok.
Soulja Boy was born in Chicago, Illinois, but grew up in Atlanta after his family moved there when he was six years old. At age 14, he relocated to Batesville, Mississippi, and began uploading music online. In 2007, he released “Crank That (Soulja Boy),” originally off his Unsigned & Still Major: Da Album Before da Album but included in his debut studio album, SouljaBoyTellEm.com.
“Crank That (Soulja Boy)” blew up (the YouTube video currently has 375 million views), and the then-17-year-old Soulja Boy was a superstar. The song, dance and accompanying instructional music video made him a mainstream sensation, and the track topped the US Billboard Hot 100. It lingered in the Hot 100 for 7 weeks. Though critics panned the album, it debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and sold over 110,000 copies in its first week.
Soulja Boy Was A Soundcloud Rapper Before There Was Soundcloud.
“I found out about the Website SoundClick,” Soulja Boy told Vulture in 2008 when explaining his success. “You’d post MP3s, and people would rate on your music, and you’d get put on charts. I had this song called “Doo Doo Head.” It was this stupid comedic song — and after a few weeks, it went No. 1 on the charts, and everyone started coming to my page looking for new music. Then I found MySpace, made my first page, and linked the MySpace page from SoundClick. Really all my MySpace views came from SoundClick, and my YouTube clicks came from MySpace; they fed off each other.”
Since his 2007 debut, he’s released three more major label releases, with 2015’s Loyalty being the latest. He has released a ton of mixtapes and a handful of independent albums. He has released plenty of singles, but none have been able to replicate the success of “Crank That.”
He Almost Boxed With Breezy.
Soulja Boy has beefed with many rappers over the years, including Ice T, Hopsin, Bow Wow, and others. In 2017, he got into it with Chris Brown after Soulja accused Chris of threatening him for liking a photo of his ex-girlfriend, Karrueche Tran. Soulja then taunted Chris over his parenting skills and his relationship with Rihanna. Chris challenged Soulja to a boxing match. Soulja recruited Floyd Mayweather to train him, and Mike Tyson eagerly vowed to teach Chris “every dirty trick in the book.”
It was during this feud that Soulja Boy made a fool out of himself while doing an Instagram Live video. “What’s going on, man? They say Soulja Boy ain’t from the hood,” Soulja said before someone pushed the phone out of his hand, leaving viewers to think he had been jumped. As for the fight, it never happened. Chris bowed out, saying it was “immature” (h/t Bleacher Report).
In 2019, He Went Viral Over ‘Drake!’
When Soulja Boy visited The Breakfast Club in 2019, he had a tense discussion over why Meek Mill had a bigger comeback than him. When the hosts brought up how Meek was incarcerated, Soulja responded that he was locked up too. When they brought up how Meek feuded with Drake, Soulja brought up his beef with Chris Brown. “His beef with Drake!” said Charlamagne That God, “the biggest rapper in the world!” (h/t NME)
“Drake? Drake?!” said Soulja, his voice going up a few octaves. “The n—– that got bodied by Pusha T? The n—- that was hiding his kid from the world but the world wasn’t hiding from his kid? Aubrey Graham – DRAKE? “Stop playing with me like I didn’t teach Drake everything he know. You didn’t hear Drake on his first song. From there, Soulja sang — ‘Tell me what’s really going on / Drizzy Drake back in this thing / I’m ready / What’s happenin’?’ – and claimed that Drake “copied my whole f—king flow. World-for-world! Bar-for-Bar!”
In 2021, when reuniting with Charlamange on the latter’s Comedy Central show, Soulja downplayed his reaction. “It was all about Drizzy,” he said, per NME. “They caught me off guard with that question.