It’s one thing for a song to be catchy, but it’s a totally different story for it to become an anthem (and have its very own dance). While many songs get stuck in our heads only to be replaced by the next catchy hook, Soulja Boy Tell’em’s hit single, “Crank That (Soulja Boy),” not only lingers in your head hours after you’ve heard it, but it became fall 2007’s hip-hop “anthem,” with everybody rapping “Superman that hoe.”
The phenomenon surrounding Soulja Boy Tell’em has become a movement for the masses with a growing fan base imitating his dance and copping his fashion trends (writing your name on the lens of sunglasses, especially). So, how did this 17-year-old kid from Mississippi by way of Atlanta, Georgia become such a notable and influential figure in the world of hip-hop?
Well, for starters Soulja Boy Tell’em (born DeAndre Way) is a very resourceful person. While most people simply browse the Internet, Soulja Boy Tell’em utilized the massive Web to jumpstart his musical career. “Me and my friends were playing around on the computer one day, and we decided to make a song for myself and put it on the Internet,” he says in a Southern drawl. “I started making songs every day. It was just something I fell upon when I was 15.”
But his interest in hip-hop developed when he was six, when he moved to Atlanta, Georgia from Chicago, Illinois, where he developed a love for rap music alongside his then partner, Young Kwon, who taught him how to make beats and record songs, and introduced him to “snap beats” (a subgenre of hip-hop from the South).
Although he learned the ropes on how to be a hip-hop MC in Atlanta, it wasn’t until he moved to Batesville, Mississippi with his dad that he began to make moves via some grassroots marketing with his classmate and co-conspirator, Arab. Realizing the potential of the Internet, Soulja created “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” on computer recording programs and uploaded it on the World Wide Web. “I made the beat to the song, and I was doing the dance on the beat before I put the words down on it. And after I did the dance, I shot the video, and we put it on YouTube and SoundClick [a free MP3 artist community].