When I enter the studio, the Artist’s face is shrouded in darkness. He’s in the booth, blunt in one hand, 7-Eleven cup in the other. He’s listening to playback of himself rapping over spacey synths and drum patterns that could be confused with howitzer discharge.

He listens to the song and picks up where he left off, freestyling line by line, discarding what he doesn’t need and keeping what he does. Every lyric earns its own accompanying dance move, seemingly composed on the fly but never anything less than casually intricate.

Naturally, the Artist is not alone. On one side is Agoff, a teen of a 20-something with an eraserhead haircut. On the other, King Reefa, a tall, lanky fellow with braids and a deep Tennessee accent. His publicist, tattoo artist, and little brother are also on hand, not doing much of anything. These are his friends and this is his studio session, but the Artist is deeply alone, a Gatsby-figure, holding court in shadowy recording studios, instead of West Egg.

He is king. He is jester. He is too perfect and too strange to exist. His name is Soulja Boy, and he has so much more he would like to give to the world.

I ask the Artist how he views his career. His response is simple. “I’m a legend, man.”

***