The most hated-on man in hip-hop explains his move towards lyricism, and gladly gives his foes more ammo.

By Damien Scott; Photography by Zach Wolfe
It’s hard to tell, but Soulja Boy Tell ’Em is focused. Despite dropping an inescapable, wildly popular debut single (you know the one), and silencing a raft of doubters by dropping three top-20 hits, the Atlanta (via Mississippi) rapper/producer still feels the need to prove himself. And it’s easy to see why. Ever since he started cranking and snapping, the 19-year-old has come under fire for being the final sign of the rap apocalypse. But none of that really bothers SBTE—he’s just having fun, enjoying the life his success has afforded him. However, just to prove the haters wrong for the umpteenth time, he plans to showcase how “hip-hop” he can get on his new album, The DeAndre Way. We caught up with Soulja to see why he wants to be more lyrical, how his dating life has improved, and how he chooses his award-show attire.
You’ve said that The DeAndre Way will be the first album you’ll have had complete artistic control over. What does that mean?
Soulja Boy: The previous two albums—yeah, I made the songs, but it wasn’t presented to the public the way that I wanted them to be. Even though I still did good, I didn’t let everybody see what I wanted them to see. And they didn’t hear what I wanted them to hear. So, going into this third album, I gotta make sure I do it the way I wanna do it.
You’ve mentioned improving as a lyricist. Are you going to be switching up your style now?
Soulja Boy: I mean, I’ve been snapping [Laughs] since I was younger, in my earlier stuff. And I’ve been rapping. But what I don’t want people to get confused about is that I am a hit-maker. It’s proven that I do write hit music. And I am very creative at writing music. And every song that I’ve ever put out, I wrote.
But you’ve had the commercial success—why do you still feel the need to be more lyrical on this album?
Soulja Boy: The success that I had with my previous music only shows me that my plan worked! The plan worked, but at the same time, there was so much criticism over nothing. I was like, Man, what’s the big deal? Jay-Z’s a great artist, great lyricist, great hip-hop pioneer. If you’ve got guys like that sending subliminal messages asking rappers to step it up, I say, Why not? I ain’t got no problem with that. Soulja Boy
You and your S.O.D. Money Gang are pretty tight, but in rap it seems all crews crumble. Does that worry you at all?
Soulja Boy: Yeah, man, I worry about that all the time. But I try to keep my crew as tight as possible, and I don’t ever think it will come to the point where they try to do something or say, “Oh, yeah, we’re gonna scold Soulja Boy,” because we’re like brothers, all of us. At the end of the day, I try to give them all the knowledge that I have, and I try to make them know that we are family. So, I hope it will never come to that with my company or my family.
What’s going on with you and the ladies? We’ve seen you with a few stunners lately, like Rosa Acosta.
Soulja Boy: Yeah, man, the pussy rate has gone through the roof. [Laughs.] I think I’m heavy now! I try to leave some things out of the public, but people find out things about celebrities, you know what I’m saying? I think I’m a beast for the most part, when it comes to the ladies. I don’t see myself settling down anytime soon ’cause I’m just now getting started.
Your clothing style has also changed as you’ve gotten more successful. What constitutes a Soulja Boy outfit these days?
Soulja Boy: A Polo shirt, some Armani jeans, and some Creative Recreation shoes and I’ll be straight. Throw on some jewelry and I’ll be ready for the red carpet. [Laughs.]
It does seem like you’ve toned down the trademarked jewelry, though. 
Soulja Boy: Yeah. I mean, if I go into the box I could get iced up real quick, but recently I haven’t been too iced up. Unless you talking award shows. [Laughs.] It depends on the occasion. I do have a lot of jewelry, but some days I may just rock one ring. Everybody knows my situation now, so I could go with nothing— jogging pants and a T-shirt—but still pull up in the Bugatti!