When Soulja Boy talks, you shut the fuck up.
He's in the middle of explaining, over the phone, the process he uses to make hit songs like "She Make It Clap," his latest viral single that hit No. 1 on Billboard's Top Triller US Chart. "When you're making music, you got to think about the people," he yells at the top of his lungs, surprised that no one else knows this secret. "People be thinking about theyselves. You selfish. What about the people that's listening to this? The people that got to listen to this, that's what I'm thinking about." Immediately after wrapping up his long-winded tangent, he's back to business — requesting that PAPER pay him for his knowledge. "I'm giving away too much game, PAPER. PAPER, cut my check. I need a check, PAPER. That's a check right there, PAPER."
This is Soulja Boy in a nutshell, and if you've been paying attention, this has been him the entire time — since he first made a dance out of ejaculating on a woman's back and naming it after DC Comics' world-renowned Kryptonian. The 30-year-old rapper became the unofficial King of Teens in 2007 (long before Lil Yachty — who he beefed with back in 2016 — would claim the title) when he released "Crank That (Soulja Boy) and pissed off every "serious" hip-hop fan and rapper in the world. But Soulja Boy's steel skin had already been shown in his idiosyncratic MySpace and Limewire marketing strategies centered on tricking people into checking out his music. Instead of folding to the critics, who thought his simplistic, dance-oriented music mocked hip-hop into near oblivion, he made more dances , engineered made-up words, and trolled the world into a place in hip-hop history. His 2007 debut album, Souljaboytellem.com, was his highest-selling effort. Following projects haven't lived up to it — however, he's somehow still remained at the tip of hip-hop culture's tongue for more than 15 years now. That's no small feat.
You can point at his five follow-up albums and dozens of mixtapes as to how he's continued to stay relevant, but that would truly only be a slice of the truth — and the smallest one at that. Since 2007, he's constantly been going viral — for both good and bad reasons. On one hand, back in 2011 he pissed off the US Military with a truly cringeworthy line about how he felt about troops (he came out later and clarified that he never meant to diss anyone), released a few very bad gaming consoles, and has — and continues to — deal with his fair share of legal problems. But on the flip side, Soulja Boy's interviews — such as his dramatic reenactment of a home robbery to DJ Vlad in 2016 or his explanation of how he's better than Drake on Power 105.1's The Breakfast Club in 2018 — as well as his numerous, lucrative business endeavors, have constantly kept him on the precipice of a career comeback.
Depending on who you ask, especially Soulja Boy, that comeback has finally arrived with the release and subsequent success of "She Make It Clap." The song — which he initially freestyled during a Twitch session — has birthed a TikTok challenge that once again has everyone doing one of his signature dances. Nowadays every artist, probably at the urging of their record label, wants to replicate that TikTok success organically. And Soulja Boy wants to help them out — for the right price. "You got to come and talk to me," he says, speaking directly to the record labels. "I need a position at the label. No more free sauce. I am the blueprint."
Here's Soulja Boy on "She Make It Clap," us living during the era of Soulja Boy and so much more. As long as this interview is, it's been edited and condensed for clarity.
I remember in 2018, you told the world that you had the biggest comeback of any artist that year. That feels more suited for 2021, due to your recent success with "She Make It Clap." Why do you think the comeback happened now versus then?
I just feel like it was just time. Now, I'm ready for all the success. Back then, I probably wasn't ready. Back then, I probably wasn't in the right position to do what I'm doing now. So I feel like it's coming for me now because I got my head straight. I'm more focused. I'm working harder. I've just changed all the way around. I focus my energy on the music. I focus my energy on the craft. I focus my energy on the comeback. And I manifested it, so I feel like it happened right now because right now was the time for it. Everything happened at the right time.
You've been around for 15 years and you're still here — you even said so in a recent tweet. So many artists from your early era haven't been able to do that. What do you think has worked for you to remain relevant?
Just sticking to what I know. I started viral. I started the internet. I started it, so of course I'm going to be able to keep doing it. I started, I came in on YouTube. That's how I'm going to go out. I came in digitally. I came in on the internet, so now that the whole rap game is digital, of course I'm going to thrive in something that I created. This is a lifetime eternity. This ain't just with millennials and Gen-Z. No, it's the year 3000, they still going to be talking about Soulja Boy. Year 4000, they still going to be talking about Soulja Boy. People don't understand what I did. I really made history in our timeline. It's lit. It's lit for y'all to be the witnesses. Y'all was alive during Soulja Boy. This timeline is lit for y'all. I made history.
"Year 4000, they still going to be talking about Soulja Boy. People don't understand what I did. I really made history in our timeline. It's lit. It's lit for y'all to be the witnesses."
The latest chapter of your story is "She Make It Clap." How did that come about?
I freestyled it on Twitch. I be streaming on Twitch, twitch.tv/souljaboy, and I got my own server called Soulja World on Grand Theft Auto. And when we in Grand Theft Auto, I got a studio in there, so I'm in the studio. Because of the pandemic, it was Corona and stuff like that, so I couldn't really be around my niggas. So I had all of them come to the studio in Grand Theft Auto, so I'm in there. We recording. I'm going through beats, going through beats, going through beats, and as soon as I heard a beat, I'm like, "Yeah. As soon as I get off stream, I'm going straight to the studio. Yeah, I'm finna to drop this right now, and I'm finna make a dance to it," no cap.
Quick — who do you think has the best challenge so far?
It's so many of them, man. Oh man, it's so many of them. I just want to really give a shout out to Ciara. Big shout out to Ciara. Shout out to Polo G. Shout out to everybody that did the challenge, man. It was crazy, just to see people support me. It's crazy. So I don't know, it's so many of them, it's hard to just choose one though, no cap.
I want to know about how you separate from the status quo now. You were one of the earliest rappers using the internet to vlog and go viral. Now that everyone else has caught up, how do you stay ahead?
I just keep doing me. That's what I figured out. And then everybody I see, they're just doing what I'm doing. Don't do nothing different. When you try to switch it up, that's when people try to take what I did and say they did it. Nah, I'm just going to keep doing me. That's the key. That's the goal. I'm Soulja Boy, I got to do Soulja Boy. No cap, that's how I stay ahead, doing me. People try to switch it up, people try to not be themselves. Be yourself. I'm the one that made the internet. I'm the one that made everything viral. I'm the one that goes platinum. I'm the one that goes number one on Billboard. I'm the one that dances. I'm the one that got the moves. I'm the one that got the drip. I'm going to be me. That's all I got to be. I ain't got to do nothing else. I don't have to do nothing extra.
Joe Budden said something similar when speaking recently on the No Jumper podcast about new competition in the podcasting space. When asked if he was nervous about it, he said something along the lines of "No, because I can do what I do, and it separates me."
Yeah, for sure. But they don't want Big Draco to make no podcast, because my podcast is going to go viral, you understand what I'm saying? Exactly. Soulja Podcast is on the way. Thanks for the idea.
I'd tune into that every day. You should definitely do that.
Soulja Podcast, coming soon.
Back to TikTok. I'm sure you've seen rappers trying to make songs pop on TikTok, before "She Make It Clap" and especially afterwards. You've succeeded where a lot of people haven't. What do you think has accounted for your success where others have failed?
Come to meet me and find out! I went number one, no marketing budget. Thank you, you just said it. No marketing budget. No labor dollars. No trickery. No hitting up TikTok to actually do it for me. No paying nobody. No nothing. Just uploaded a song, and it went viral. Come ask me how I did it. The labels need to be cutting me the check. That $1 million deal you gave to your artist, and that $200,000 marketing budget you spent on them, and they ain't had nobody to do their dance, they got a thousand videos. Big Draco got three million videos, uploading it by himself! No nothing!
So let that sink into your head, labels. Y'all need to stop trying to dope me, cross me, go behind my back, and steal my artists and sign them into these deals, when they know I found them first off of YouTube, and you need to come straight to me and give me my correct respect, and give me my deal. And I make all y'all artists viral forever. We all could be viral, get money on TikTok. What do you mean how I did it? I'm not finna give up the songs. Record labels, major labels, everybody reading this interview, come talk to me.
How would you summarize the advice that you have for them? If you feel comfortable sharing the sauce.
Hire Soulja Boy. Hire Soulja Boy. I need a position at your label, major labels. I need to be Vice President. I need to be President of Marketing. I need a position at your label. If y'all want me to teach y'all how to go viral, cut me a check. What? I done showed y'all how to do it. Y'all been stealing my songs for years and y'all labeled me, talking about Soulja Boy, do it like Soulja Boy. I showed y'all the YouTube. I finessed the whole world with LimeWire, Napster, BearShare! When you click that song, and you downloaded that song, you thought you was going to get that song for free. You was listening to me! You can't pay for that. You can't copy that. You can't learn that. You got to come and talk to me. I need a position at the label. No more free sauce! I am the blueprint.
I saw recently that you signed a new deal with Virgin Music. How did that come about?
I'm the hottest. I went number one on the Billboard. How you think it came about? I had seven labels trying to sign me. 13, if you include the indies! Seven majors. What you mean, how it came about? They all called me and said, "Soulja, we want to sign you." And I said, "Okay, I just went number one on TikTok, number one on artists of editorial playlists, no label. Okay. I've been independent for the last, how many years? Okay. Do I really want to give this music thing another shot?" Yeah. It's what I worked so hard for.
People was talking about, "Stay independent." For what? For what? 100% of what? I'm trying to take it to the moon. They believed in me, and the bag. They gave me the bag. I want the bag, and I want my masters, and I want my own label, and I want a partnership. I didn't sign to y'all, y'all signed to me. This ain't no regular record deal. This ain't no artist's agreement. This ain't no 360. What you think this is?
You know what one label tried to do? They tried to take my touring. They tried to take my publishing. They tried to take my merch. They tried to take my... No. This Big Draco. We don't do 360s over here. We don't give up. We don't give up the record. No, I went number one by myself. You couldn't pay me enough to do that. I got the best record deal in the music game right now. I can drop my album today. Partnership.
You're back in full effect. With that said, how do you feel about your place in hip-hop now?
I don't care about my place bro. I got so much money, bro, I don't care. I just find that the game is whatever you want to make it. It's whoever you respect. Who cares? Man, I don't care. I know where my place in hip hop is. I know what I did for the culture. I know how lit I am. The people are going to figure it out when they figure it out. I don't really care about your opinions and assumptions any more, because I now understand that people don't know what they are talking about.
"I don't care about my place bro. I got so much money, bro, I don't care."
With "She Make It Clap" being your latest viral song, after doing it for so many years, is going viral still exciting to you?
It's very exciting. I love it. Yes, yes. It's very exciting, yes. I feel great. This is more exciting than the first time, because there's new technology. I ain't have TikTok when "Crank That" came out. Now I got TikTok. Oh man, and we are just getting started. They think this is it? This the first one. I just dropped the song last month. Can I get the second one out? Can I drop my album? Can I keep it going? We are just getting started. They're not ready for the remix. They don't want to hear the remix.
I'd love to know what's up it. Who's on it?
They don't want to know. They're going to want to kill me. They don't want to know who on the... I can't say. I just got to drop it, and they hear on the radio. I learned the game.
Back to the deal. You signed it, you're back on top. What's next for you?
I'm working on Soulja Boy game console. You can follow @souljaboygame on Instagram, on Twitter, on TikTok. We just went into Amazon stores. We just put billboards up all around the world, check them out. We in London. We everywhere. We viral right now. So I'm really putting a lot of energy into the Soulja Boy game. It's really doing good right now. It's really doing good right now. And after that, I'm dropping my album, so y'all stay tuned for the summer. My album is going to come this summer, for sure.
What can we expect from the album? Aside from more songs like "She Make It Clap."
Exclusive album details. Man, just hit, hit, every song hit. That's all I want to do, hit. Every hit, viral. Everything viral, no plan. No plan, no game, just hit, good music. Hit, hit, hit, hit, hit.
Walk me through the process you use to make your hit songs.
I do the Soulja. I do the Soulja. I do the Soulja. That's the hit. I do the Soulja. I go to the studio and do the Soulja. I do the Draco, no cap. I go in there. I know how to make a hit. I'm know how to make a hit, no cap. I can't really just put it into words. All I can just say, the Soulja. Soulja. You got to be in. You're not on you. You got to know what you're doing. I know what I'm doing. Am I not? Did I not go number one on Billboard?
Yeah, you did.
See? I know what I'm doing. So we just lock into that studio, man. I just have fun though. All jokes aside, I have fun, man. I have fun. I'm in that studio and I'm just having fun. I can't wait for the people to hear. I can't wait. I know they going to like this. I know you're going to... When you making music, you got to think about the people. People be thinking about theyselves. You selfish. What about the people that's listening to this? The people that got to listen to this, that's what I'm thinking about. What they going to think when they hear this? They're going to be like, "Ay, Draco." That's how you make a hit. You got to think about the people that's hearing your music, and how they going to feel. I'm giving away too much game, PAPER. PAPER, cut my check. I need to check, PAPER. That's a check right there, PAPER.
"I'm giving away too much game, PAPER. PAPER, cut my check. I need to check, PAPER. That's a check right there, PAPER."
Your confidence is through the roof. How has it evolved into this since you came into the industry so long ago?
Man, I've been like this since before. I had the same confidence I have now was the same confidence I had, when I was in a trap in the trenches, and I was trying to tell them. I was like, "Yo bro, I'm finna be the biggest rapper in the game. I'm finna make millions of dollars. I'm going to be the most famous person in the world." And everybody was looking at me like I was crazy. I'm like, "Bro, I'm trying to tell y'all." I'm like, "Bro, stop." They like, "Bro, Soulja, come on." I'm like, "Bro, stop. Bro, stop playing." I'm like, "Bro, I'm finna be rich." I'm like, "Bro, stay focused." I'm like, "If you don't listen to me, you're going to be broke." You're going to be in the hood and you're going to be looking at me on TV and you're going to be like, "Damn, why didn't I listen to him?" I was telling niggas that shit, I promise. They can come back and tell you. That's what I was telling people.
So I always had this same confidence. I knew I was the nigga since I was born. I knew when I seen the rap game, I watched, I listened. Now, I'm here. I watched everybody in the rap game and I was like, "Ooh, if I get in the rap game, it's going to be so easy." I was like, "If I just get a song or anything, something like a rapper, I'm going to kill it." I just knew it. You feel me? And look what happened, so it's like, "Come on, man."
How do you feel about the industry today? Do you still find it as easy to maneuver in as when you came in?
Man, I am the industry. You feel me? It's a new industry. The old, that doesn't exist no more. When I came to the game, that don't exist any more. I created a whole new game. It's different. It's Spotify, Apple music, playlists and vlogs, YouTube and cryptocurrency. I changed the world, bro. Ain't no maneuvering through the industry. I am the industry. The industry got to maneuver through me. They got to copy me. They got to watch me. You feel me? Ain't no maneuvering, now. I'm a boss. I took over the industry. When I came into the industry, they were trying to little boy me. Now I'm a CEO. They can't tell me what to do. I do what I want to do. You see, I just went number one how I wanted to. You feel me?
Y'all see how I just broke the rules. You think they liked that? They want to control that. They couldn't control that. I went number one off the people, off the strength, off the muscle, because that's me. That's the respect. That's the love I get 'round the world because I'm a legend, and people know that. I got that off the strength. You feel me? I ain't need no clout, no extra none of that. So yeah, ain't no maneuvering through no nothing. It goes through me.
Photo courtesy of Soulja Boy
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