It’s only one person that comes to mind when speaking of evolution and growth throughout the course of their career.
Soulja Boy Tellem came into the hip-hop rap scene around 2007 — by storm. Releasing a gem to the world, “Crank That Soulja boy” was definitely the start of something new. With that song alone, Soulja Boy brought hip-hop into the digital era. Doing something as such, you would think that would put him in the conversations of the greats, but instead it is the exact opposite — until a few years ago, but we will delve into that later. Traditional rappers and the “OG’s ‘’ were not digging what he had going. Maybe it’s because they — plus pretty much everybody- didn’t know what he had going on, with the way he was using the internet. Rapper Ice-T went as far as saying the “Crank Dat” rapper single handedly killed hip-hop.
Only one of them is still making music now.. Go figure.
The 16 year-old at the time brought a whole new blueprint on how music and the internet can be intertwined. He went viral before that was a term and became a social media influencer before that was a job. Ever since coming out with this new way of doing things he has been misunderstood. People did not realize what this song would do to the internet culture as we know it today. Youtube since then makes the perfect space for independent artists, to be able to release and promote their music on a platform to the masses of the world. Many of the hits we hear and love today came about because they were loaded on the internet and it went viral.
Outside of his radio hits he was looked at as a “bad rapper.” So this guy comes out with a new style of hip-hop, produces his work from home, and pretty much creates the internet and this is how he is perceived. The Grammy nominated artist set the record for most digital downloads in the U.S. with over three million units sold. Making him the first rapper to ever achieve this. These stats mentioned don’t correlate to why someone with such negative views was up for a nomination. Soulja Boy did lose to Kanye West’s Good Life. 2007 was a good year for hip-hop, Cupid Shuffle, another dance song that lives on till this day- was released. Look at what’s going on today, every song has a dance to it, because there is a new dance challenge connected with it. Soulja boy started off that dance craze challenge where songs had lyrics built in telling you exactly how to dance to the song. Even the average lazy and casual dancer could get the hang of Crank That. It was more complicated than Ciara’s 1–2 Step that had been released 3 years earlier, but all ages were able to catch on.
It’s not until recently that people have started giving Soulja Boy his flowers. Now he is looked at in a different light, as a “pioneer”. Many of today’s rappers have even come forward letting it be known that they wouldn’t have been doing what they do, without him. NLE Choppa, recently took to twitter to pretty much give Soulja Boy those flowers. Now granted, I am a huge fan of Soulja boy so I knew all these things and had tried to bring them to everyone’s attention. Especially those, that i’ve witnessed online, that liked to throw his name in the same sentence with “ Worst Rapper Alive.”
I wouldn’t call it a comeback — but Soulja boy had the biggest comeback of 2018.
It all started with the Breakfast Club Interview back in 2019, where Soulja Boy broke down the facts and people finally started to hear him out and changed their perception of how they looked at his career.
“STOP PLAYING WITH ME LIKE I AIN’T TEACH DRAKE EVERYTHING HE KNOW…” Soulja boy said this during the interview. The interview went crazy viral, it catapulted memes for days but most importantly it generated facts.
His evolution within his music career as an artist has not caught the attention that he did from the Crank That release. Soulja Boy hasn’t touched billboards since 2010 with hit single Pretty Boy Swag, But maybe that was a good thing. While he has still been able to release mixtape after mixtape with the same techniques, at home production and loading it to digital platforms, he has since then pretty much tapped into every industry. The evolution of his career helped him break outside of the artist barrier. If he did get that Grammy, if he did gain all positive feedback throughout his career, would have ventured into these territories outside of being a rapper? Soulja boy the rapper to Soulja boy the entrepreneur. A Soulja Man. Even without being at the forefront of music he has shown that he is still evolving with time.
His evolution is cultural. The hip — hop music culture wouldn’t be where it is today without Soulja Boy. In recent years he has released two gaming consoles and he does live game streaming on Twitch. This is another key part of his evolution and how it deems as cultural. Game streaming is at an all time high, and he’s in on it. The Soulja Boy Game, is powered by android and you can watch Netflix and listen to Apple Music. Did Soulja boy just bring Android and Apple together on one device?! The guy is a genius.
Soulja Boy also managed to grab the #1 spot on Tik-Tok for his new single “ She make It Clap”. From that alone Soulja Boy had multiple labels reaching out to him, as he shared on Instagram Live, but he made the decision to sign to Virgin Music.
In one of Soulja Boy’s songs he says “I got a master plan to make a trillion.” Not sure if he has touched a trillion, but I say this lyric still stands. I don’t think him being misunderstood at first spiked his evolution, I think it was always part of him to do more outside of being an artist. I can’t recall someone else who has single-handedly elicited a culture shift, along with the evolution of their career.