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 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 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 was the middleman [between me and Interscope.] But my label was taking off, Collipark wasn’t feeling that, and it just went left. He wanted me to be all for Collipark.
“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’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 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.