Label: Profile/Arista/BMG

Soulja Boy wasn't the first teenage rapper. Back in the '80s, in fact, give or take a KRS One, most rappers were in their teens when their careers started to take off. But even at the time, Special Ed seemed a prodigy, a 16-year-old with a natural grasp of language. His comfortable, laid-back delivery balanced his expansive vocabulary with a veneer of casual-ness. But it wasn't something quite so simple as "complexity x coolness = $$$."

He was also a creative lyricist brimming with ideas. "Try to battle me and I'ma make it my job/To burn you as I turn you like a shish-ka-bob." The opening 1-2-3 punch of "Taxing" (the Beatles sample from which will probably ensure this record never gets an official reissue), "I Got It Made," and "I Am the Magnificent" were the strongest since Follow the Leader the previous year. The album as a whole was strong, though, and helped the Flatbush native transcend humble surroundings, to make the dream of "I Got It Made" a reality.—David Drake