In a few short years, Soulja Boy has done more than most rappers do in a lifetime. He first exploded onto the scene in 2007 with "Crank Dat (Soulja Boy)"—a massive hit which sparked a dance craze, a new era of viral marketing, and was nominated for a Grammy. Since that time, SB has routinely been blamed for ruining hip-hop, but all the while, the hits kept pouring in. His debut album, Souljaboytellem.com, was certified platinum and his second album, ISouljaBoyTellem, (after an initial stutter) managed to score some big hits and proved that Soulja was no fluke.
Right when it seemed like we'd all have to get used to Soulja Boy sticking around, everything changed. SB's last album, The DeAndre Way, which dropped late last year, only spawned one hit (the infectious "Pretty Boy Swag") and sold less than 14,000 in its first week. Since the undeniable L—which was compounded by Kat Stacks and her infamous video shot in Soulja's hotel room with lines of cocaine on the dresser—he has been plotting his way back to the winner's circle. SB's released two mixtapes this year, including his Juice mixtape which dropped on 4/20. Once again, Soulja is looking to build his buzz using the Internet, so we got on the horn with the head of the Stacks On Deck Money Gang to discuss his new mixtape and mini-movie, his friend and fellow S.O.D. member Lil B, and what went wrong with his last album.
As told to Insanul Ahmed (@Incilin)
On the disappointing sales of The DeAndre Way
“Honestly, I felt like that was one of the best albums in my career. But when the sales came, I just felt like that reflected something that was going on personally in my life. A lot of people don’t know that ‘Pretty Boy Swag’ went platinum and it was a Billboard Top 10 hit. I felt like I should have dropped my album at the peak of ‘Pretty Boy Swag.’ But I dropped the album so far after that. Because after that, ‘Blowing Me Kisses’ performed well and ‘Speakers Going Hammer’ was a hit, but it really didn’t do what ‘Pretty Boy Swag’ did.
“I wanted to release my album on my birthday. But when you’re signed to a label like Interscope, they’ve got a million other artists dropping albums. If I could, I would go in there and say, ‘Hey, I need to ship a million copies on my birthday, July 28.’ I’ve got hit singles and platinum albums, but I can’t demand what day they put my album in stores. It just so happened that my date came to fall upon that winter, when it should have really been that summer.
“Honestly, I shut down for a week [after my album dropped]. I wasn’t talking to nobody, I wasn’t talking to management, and I wasn’t talking to the label. I wasn’t picking up nobody’s calls. I went like that for a week. I was in a state of confusion. I needed answers. I was doing this concert in Hawaii for my fans and then I was in Hawaii for a week.
“I wouldn’t have been able to go platinum first week anyway, because the label only shipped like 18,000 copies. So I wasn’t able to do gold first week or even 100k, none of that. They only put like 8,000 units in Best Buy. It was crazy. I didn’t know all of that though. I was just going off of, ‘My album’s going to be in stores, so I’m going to promote it as much as I can.’ I’m not the type of person to just be out like, ‘Hey, my label did this and I was in a situation with that.’ But I don’t want to get caught up in record-label-artist drama or nothing like that. I just want to keep everything cool to make music, that’s all.
“Honestly, I had hit singles on that album besides ‘Pretty Boy Swag.’ Like ‘Hey Cutie’ with Trey Songz, ‘Grammy’ with Esther Dean, and ‘Mean Mug’ with 50 Cent. The labels out here, they don’t know what they’re doing. No disrespect to no labels, but I’ve got my ear to the streets. I know what’s hot and I know what’s going to sell, but nine times out of ten you’ve got to bring that to the label, and you’ve got to tell them.
“So I feel like this mixtape is going to set the tone. I’ve got some great music on it, they’re going to like it, and then that’s going to push the momentum into my fourth project on Interscope. I’ve got three more albums with Interscope.
On problems with Mr. Collipark
“A lot of people didn’t know what was going on behind the scenes with my team, the record label, and people in my camp. When I was going through the release of my album, I was going through internal situations between me and Mr. Collipark. He wasn’t really on-board with the project. He didn’t have any tracks on the album like he did on the previous albums, so that caused certain things to happen.
“Collipark, he was like my mentor. But I’m going to be honest with you, if you look at Collipark’s artists he had Ying Yang Twins and Hurricane Chris. When I first started it was Soulja Boy and Collipark. But after my label Stacks On Deck Money Gang Records was established and I started making all these different moves, I started to become a businessman. My label was taking off and I guess I was putting more time and energy into that then to Collipark. He wasn’t feeling that and it just went left. He wanted me to be all for Collipark. So during the third album, I didn’t have him there to be able to tell the label to ship 500,000 the first week, or put the single on the radio, or we need this song. So I was basically out there by myself, just hoping the label will do the best they can.
“I don’t have the leverage to go into [Interscope] and demand things like, ‘I need a million of my albums shipped,’ or ‘I need y’all promoting this on the commercials everyday.’ Stuff like that, I have to let Collipark do that. Collipark was the middleman [between me and Interscope.] And if Collipark is not doing that, who is going to do it?
“I had other frustrations too. I felt like I was being kept in the dark about the contracts that I signed when I was 17. That shouldn’t happen at all. But now that I’m 20 now—being the businessman that I am—everything is efficient now where I’m getting paid. So you grow and you learn. I’m going to always have to make sure that I’m in a situation that makes sense, whether you’re supporting me or not.
It was just a miscommunication. That’s all it was. He never really spoke upon it until it just came into where I just seen it and we spoke. Me and Collipark, we’re cool now, we don’t have any problems. We’re about to get back and start working, and going in, but it was just something that I had to go through. It was just crazy. I just wish he could have been there anyway, just because I came into the game through him. Just because I was becoming a businessman and doing things his other artists weren’t doing, I feel like he should have supported and helped me anyway.
On getting advice from 50 Cent
“[I stopped Twittering when my sales came back because] I just needed to take a break. I needed to think about things. I needed to evaluate my camp and what was going on in my circle. I had to talk to my family, the label, and my management. I had a big talk with the big bruh 50 Cent. I’m going to forever thank 50 because he guided me. When I was at my lowest point in my career and I just felt like I ain’t really want to do this music no more. I was like, ‘Man, I’m still young. I made enough money.’ My head was on a whole different radar, but he was like, ‘Man, you tripping little bro. You’ve got to keep it going.'
"He was like, 'You’ve got to keep doing what you’re doing. You’re Soulja Boy, you’re here for a reason. Everybody’s not going platinum. Everybody didn’t do what you did. Everybody didn’t come in on the Internet. You’re the one that started the Internet. You’re the one that got me on the Internet. You’re the one that got us on blogs, on YouTube, and on Twitter.’ I was like, ‘Man, you know what? You’re right.’ He wasn’t doing nothing but speaking true knowledge to my head and it got me right back in the studio. So I ain’t going to never quit. I’m going to stay in this music industry. I’m going to stay making hits, and I’m going to do what I’ve got to do, and I thank 50. I really needed that at that time.
On Kat Stacks
After that, I was going through some personal things in my career that I had never been through before and it was being displayed in public. I just felt like the bitch [Kat Stacks] tried to end me. [Laughs.] She set me up on some dirty shit and she tried to frame me. I felt like she swayed a lot of people’s opinions and I just felt like the bitch tried to end me. She set me up in front of the whole world. My true fans were riding with me throughout and I got through it. But it just goes to show you’ve got to be careful out here man. Motherfuckers will try to end you. I’m a young, positive black male, just trying to do good. I ain’t shooting people and I ain’t selling drugs. I’m making good music, trying to do something good, and she comes in with some foul-ass shit like that. It’ll just mess you up for a little bit. But you grow, you learn, and you get through it. The lesson you take from that is fuck these bitches. [Laughs.]
On Juice mixtape & mini-movie
“This tape is basically talking about how I’ve got the most juice in the rap game. It all started last month when I was in my crib in Los Angeles and I was watching Juice. And Tupac, he just turned up in the movie so hard, he just went in. After I got done watching the movie, I said I’m going to name my next mixtape Juice.
“I recorded it in Atlanta in my home studio. That’s where I recorded a lot of my stuff that took off like ‘Pretty Boy Swag.’ And I recorded the first song, ‘Juice.’ So I just went in on the mixtape, then DJ Scream hit me like, ‘Let do this tape.’ For this Juice mixtape, I’m shooting a mini-movie with Rage, the same director that shot ‘Crank That’ and ‘Kiss Me Through The Phone.’ BET is going to premier it.
“Some of the cast from the original Juice, like Omar Epps and Jermaine Hopkins reached out to the director Rage when we were doing casting and said, ‘I want to do a role in the movie.’ We’re definitely going to get them parts. And Rage, he directed a lot of videos for Cam’Ron. So Rage was like, ‘Yo, you mess with Cam’Ron?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I mess with Cam’Ron man. Purple Haze, you know that’s a classic. Let’s get him in the movie.’ So Cam is going to play just a straight juiced-up-gangsta, just how he did in Paid In Full. Cam is an OG with the movie scenes.
“We’re filming it here in Atlanta, and I’m doing three music videos off of the mini-movie. They’re going to be like singles I’m going to put on TV. It’s like a spin-off of the original Juice. It was inspired by Juice, but it’s my own story. It was definitely inspired by the original film though. I’m playing the 2011 Bishop, I’m going to turn up though. I’m really doing it so people can see me act. I want to break into the acting scene too. I’m a character when I want to be.”
On S.O.D. artist Lil B and his I’m Gay album
“Lil B is with Stacks on Deck Money Gang. I signed Lil B at the end of ‘09. Everybody that’s signed to S.O.D.M.G., they have 100% creativity over their own projects. When I first started working with Lil B, I knew the position he was in. I knew he was already coming off of a major when he was with The Pack, and he was a solo artist as Lil B the Based God. His music was weird and different—but I’ve got an ear for what the young people are going to like, so I believed in B. He’s doing his thing.
“What a lot of people don’t know is B met with a lot of people. B met with 50 Cent, Sylvia Rhone, and a lot of people tried to buy B. Basically, he only did that deal [with Amalgam Digital] so he could release his mixtapes. He was like, ‘Man, I want to put these mixtapes out and I want to do an S.O.D. album.’ So I was like, ‘Alright, cool.’ So he’s going to release the mixtapes with Amalgam Digital, they’re going to distribute it, and then after that he’s going to do his [solo album] through S.O.D. When he does his S.O.D. album, it’s going to be official. [Laughs.] I don’t think people are ready for that yet.
“He’s getting together singles [for his S.O.D. album] now. He’ll always hit me like, ‘Yo, we’re going to do this and we’re going to do that.’ What we’ve got to do is maintain and get his buzz as big as it can get. Once he finishes these mixtapes with Amalgam Digital, and we get the hype, and he gets the single, we’re going to drop it. Because if you’ve noticed, we’re doing all of this off the buzz of the mixtapes. You ain’t really seen B’s single on the radio. So we’re setting it up perfect.
“His [I’m Gay album] is not going to be on S.O.D., that’s going to be one of his mixtapes. Let me tell you something about B [Laughs], he’s really trying to push that words don’t mean shit. Even when we would always have conversations, he would always be like, ‘Man, I’m going to be a human sacrifice.’ Because even with some of the songs that he puts out, I’ll ask him about it like, ‘Yo, what are you talking about in this part right here?’ And he’s like, ‘Nah bruh, I’m being me.’ Because you know how any time anyone ever disrespects somebody, they say, ‘Aw man, you a bitch. Aw man, you gay.’ That nigga B, he’s got so much confidence in himself he said, ‘I’m a bitch. I’m gay. I’m all that shit.’ He doesn’t give a fuck. I respect it.
“[I didn’t know that he was going to call his album I’m Gay] It caught me by surprise too. [Laughs.] I was like, ‘What the fuck!’ [Laughs.] But you’ve got to respect it and you can’t be mad at it. I’m pretty sure not everybody’s going to like it, but if you understand what he’s trying to do then you’ll respect it. I ain’t fixing to go around calling myself gay and a bitch though. [Laughs.] Nah, fuck that shit. [Laughs.] But I understand 100% what he’s doing though. He’s just trying to say that words don’t mean shit, that’s all that is.”