DeAndre Cortez Way (born July 28, 1990), better known by his stage
name Soulja Boy Tell 'Em, or simply Soulja Boy, is an American rapper
and record producer.
In September 2007, his single "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" reached
number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The single was initially self-published
on the Internet, and it became a number-one hit in the United States
for seven non-consecutive weeks starting in September 2007.
Despite his commercial success, his music has been the subject of
ridicule from his peers and critics.
DeAndre Way was born in Chicago and moved to Atlanta at age six,
where he became interested in rap music. At age 14, he moved to
Batesville, Mississippi, with his father, who provided a recording
studio for Way to explore his musical ambitions.
Career beginnings and souljaboytellem.com (2005–2008)
Soulja Boy performing "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" in February
Way founded the record label "Stacks on Deck Entertainment" in
2004. While Way was signed under Interscope and Collipark Music,
he claimed that his label had distribution deals with Interscope,
Universal Records, and Koch.
In November 2005, Way posted his songs on the website SoundClick.
Following positive reviews on the site, he then established his own
web pages on YouTube and MySpace. In March 2007, he recorded "Crank
That" and released his first independent album Unsigned & Still
Major: Da Album Before da Album, followed by a low-budget video filmed
demonstrating the "Crank That" dance. By the end of May
2007, "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" received its first airplay
and Way met with Mr. Collipark to sign a deal with Interscope Records.
On August 12, 2007, the song appeared on the Emmy-award winning
HBO series Entourage, and by September 1, it topped the Billboard
Hot 100 and Hot RingMasters charts. Way's major label debut album
Souljaboytellem.com, which was reportedly recorded using just the
demo version of FL Studio, was released in the United States
on October 2, peaking at #4 on both the Billboard 200 and Top
R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. On December 9, 2007, Way was sued
by William Lyons (a.k.a. Souljah Boy of Mo Thugs Family) who claims
he first created the stage name "Souljah Boy".
For the 50th Grammy Awards, Way was nominated for a Grammy Award
for Best Rap Song with "Crank That (Soulja Boy)". He lost
to Kanye West's and T-Pain's "Good Life".
Souljaboytellem.com received a favorable review from Allmusic,
but received mainly negative reviews from other sources such as Entertainment
Weekly. Several reviewers credited Soulja Boy with spearheading
a new trend in hip-hop, while speculating he will likely be a one-hit
In June 2008, on DJ Cisco's Urban Legend mixtape, Ice-T criticized
Way for "killing hip-hop" and his song "Crank That" for
being "garbage" compared to the works of other hip-hop
artists such as Rakim, Das EFX, Big Daddy Kane and Ice Cube. One
of the comments in the exchange was when Ice-T told Way to "eat
a dick". The two then traded numerous videos back and forth
over the Internet. These videos included a cartoon and video of Ice-T
dancing on Way's behalf and an apology, but reiteration of his feelings
that Way's music "sucks", on Ice-T's behalf. Rapper
Kanye West defended Way by arguing that the younger artist created
a new, original work for hip-hop, thus keeping the authentic meaning
of the music.
The follow-up to souljaboytellem.com, iSouljaBoyTellem, was released
on December 16, 2008, to negative critical reception. The first
single from the album, "Bird Walk", peaked at number 40
on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and the top 20 on
the Hot Rap Tracks chart. "Kiss Me Thru the Phone", with
Sammie, followed, peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Hot
Rap Tracks charts.
The DeAndre Way (2009–present)
The DeAndre Way is Way's third studio album, released on November
30, 2010. Way has stated that the album is intended to be his most
personal and successful album thus far. When speaking on possible
collaborations, he stated he wished to work with artists such as
Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West, Eminem, among others. The
album was titled "The DeAndre Way" but was changed in early
2010 to Dre. However it was reverted back to The DeAndre Way in July
The lead single from the album, "POW", was released in
January 2009 but failed to garner success and was dubbed a promo
single. The official lead single from the album, "Pretty Boy
Swag", was released in June 2010. The single has reached number
thirty-four on the Billboard Hot 100, number six on the Billboard
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and number five on the Billboard
Rap Songs chart. The album's second single was due to be "Digital",
then "Speakers Going Hammer", but "Blowing Me Kisses" was
released on August 31, 2010 as the second single instead. Soulja
Boy was to be part of the Summerbeatz tour held in Australia alongside
Flo Rida, Jay Sean and Travie McCoy in November 2010, but in lieu
of his current album release date and a new tour, Soulja Society,
Soulja Boy had declined the offer.
Critics and hip hop figures such as Method Man have cited Soulja
Boy as artistically typical of contemporary rap trends such as writing
for the lucrative ringtone market, and the ascendence of "Southern
hip hop", emphasizing catchy music that discards rap's traditional
emphasis on message. Soulja Boy identifies his goal as making
upbeat, party-themed music that avoids the negative, violent image
that he sees in most hip-hop.
Despite this, his music has been banned from some school dances
for sexual, violent content or innuendo. However, he has denied these
claims. In the original YouTube video for "Shootout",
Soulja Boy demonstrates his dance while holding a handgun in each
hand and pretending to shoot into the audience.
On December 30, 2008, Way was robbed and assaulted in his home.
Initial reports indicated that the robbers were six masked men with
AK-47s and pistols but on December 31, 2008, video clips surfaced
on the Internet of two masked men claiming sole credit for the crime.
Soulja Boy described the incident to MTV News a month later: He had
come home very late at night after attending an album release party
and was recording songs with friends when the robbers came in pointing
On October 7, 2009, Way was arrested on one count of obstruction,
a misdemeanor, for running from police when he'd been ordered to
stop. The rapper was released on $550 bond.
Main article: Soulja Boy discography
* Souljaboytellem.com (2007)
* iSouljaBoyTellem (2008)
* The DeAndre Way (2010)
Awards and nominations
* BET Awards
o 2007: Best New Artist (Nominated)
o 2008: Viewer's Choice Award: "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" (Nominated)
o 2009: Viewer's Choice Award: "Kiss Me Thru the Phone" (Nominated)
* BET Hip-Hop Awards
o 2007: Best Hip-Hop Dance (Won)
* Grammy Awards
o 2008: Best Rap Song: "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" (Nominated)
* Ozone Awards
o 2007: Patiently Waiting: Mississippi (Won)
o 2008: Best Breakthrough Artist (Nominated)
o 2008: TJ's DJ's Tastemaker Award (Nominated)
* Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards
o 2007: Favorite Male Singer (Nominated)
* Teen Choice Awards
o 2009: Choice Music: Rap Artist (Nominated)
o 2009: Choice Music: R&B Track for "Kiss Me Thru the Phone" (Nominated)
o 2009: Choice Music: Hook Up for "Kiss Me Thru the Phone"
o 2009: Choice Music: Artist (Nominated)