DeAndre Cortez Way (born July 28, 1990), better known by his stage name Soulja Boy Tell 'Em, or simply Soulja Boy, is an American rapper, record producer, actor, and entrepreneur.
In September 2007, his single "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100. The single was initially self-published on the internet, and it later became a number-one hit in the United States for seven non-consecutive weeks starting in September 2007. On August 17 Way was listed at number 18 on the Forbes list of Hip-Hop Cash Kings of 2010 earning $7 million for that year.
Way has currently released three studio albums and one independent album: his debut studio album Souljaboytellem.com (2007) was certified platinum by the RIAA. However, his next two albums, iSouljaBoyTellem (2008) and The DeAndre Way (2010) did not match the commercial success of his debut, the latter only selling 100,000 copies, despite the success of several singles across both albums, such as "Kiss Me Thru the Phone" and "Turn My Swag On" (iSouljaBoyTellem) and "Pretty Boy Swag" (The DeAndre Way).
In 2011, Way stated he was working on his fourth studio album, which will be released in 2014.
DeAndre Way was born in Chicago and moved to Atlanta at age six, where he became interested in rap music.
At age 14, he moved to Batesville, Mississippi, with his father, who provided a recording studio for Way to explore his musical ambitions. In November 2005, Way posted his songs on the website SoundClick. Following positive reviews on the site, he then established his own web pages on YouTube and Myspace. In March 2007, he recorded "Crank That" and released his first independent album Unsigned & Still Major: Da Album Before da Album, followed by a low-budget video filmed demonstrating the "Crank That" dance. By the end of May 2007, "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" received its first airplay and Way met with Mr. Collipark to sign a deal with Interscope Records.
On August 12, 2007, the song appeared on the Emmy-award winning HBO series Entourage, and by September 1, it topped the US Billboard Hot 100 and Hot RingMasters charts. Way's major label debut album Souljaboytellem.com, which was reportedly recorded using just the demo version of FL Studio, was released in the United States on October 2, peaking at number four on both the Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts.
For the 50th Grammy Awards, Way was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Song with "Crank That (Soulja Boy)". He lost to Kanye West's and T-Pain's "Good Life".
Souljaboytellem.com received a favorable review from Allmusic, but received mainly negative reviews from other sources such as Entertainment Weekly. Several reviewers credited Soulja Boy with spearheading a new trend in hip-hop, while speculating he will likely be a one-hit wonder.
The follow-up to souljaboytellem.com, iSouljaBoyTellem, was released on December 16, 2008, to negative critical reception. The first single from the album, "Bird Walk", peaked at number 40 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and the top 20 on the Hot Rap Tracks chart. It was performed on the first YouTube Live on November 22, 2008, with an introduction from MC Hammer. "Kiss Me Thru the Phone", with Sammie, followed, peaking at number three on the Hot 100 and number one on the Hot Rap Tracks charts.Chris Brown was originally Way's first choice to sing the hook, but respectfully turned down the offer. Way then tried to do it on his own with Auto-Tune but he found it unacceptable. It sold over 2,000,000 digital copies in the United States, becoming his second song to reach the two million mark in downloads.
On January 26, 2009, Way released his third single "Turn My Swag On". it topped the US Rap Charts and peaked at number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100. It has so far sold more than 1,000,000 digital downloads in the United States. It became Soulja Boy's third song to sell 1 million or more downloads.
2009-2010: The DeAndre Way:
The DeAndre Way is Way's third studio album, Way has stated that the album is intended to be his most personal and successful album thus far. When speaking on possible collaborations, he stated he wished to work with artists such as Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West,Eminem, among others. The lead single from the album, "POW", was released in January 2009 but failed to garner success and was dubbed a promo single. On October 30, 2009, Way released three mixtapes Paranormal Activity, Dat Piff & Cortez. Then it was announced on February 18, 2010, that the first single from the album was going to be "All Black Everything" but it was cancelled and was just put on his promotional mixtape Legendary. The album was titled The DeAndre Way but was changed in early 2010 to Dre with a commercial video snippet for "Do It Big" as the first single but it was cancelled as well. However it reverted to The DeAndre Way in July 2010.
But on June 8, 2010, the official lead single from the album was "Pretty Boy Swag". The single has reached number 34 on the Billboard Hot 100, number six on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and number five on the Rap Songs chart. The album's second single was due to be "Digital" but it was just used on his promotional mixtape Best Rapper. Then it was announced that "Speakers Going Hammer" was going to be the second single, but "Blowing Me Kisses" was released on August 31, 2010, as the second single instead. On October 13 Soulja Boy performed "Pretty Boy Swag" and a snippet of his third single "Speakers Going Hammer". On October 19, 2010, Way finally released "Speakers Going Hammer" on iTunes with the single peaking at number 48 on the Billboard Hot R&B & Hip Hop Tracks.The DeAndre Way was released on November 30, 2010, and has so far only sold 70,000 copies making this Way's lowest selling album. Soulja Boy was to be part of the Summerbeatz tour held in Australia alongside Flo Rida, Jay Sean and Travie McCoy in November 2010, but in lieu of his current album release date Soulja Boy had declined the offer and just embarked on his Who They Want tour.
2011-present: Various mixtapes, EP's & next album:
On January 22, Way released his first mixtape of 2011 Smooky which cover featured a cartoon version of Way on a bicycle doing a 360. Then On March 17, 2011, Way released the mixtape 1up which cover was based on the Naruto anime, stating: "If I was in a video game, this mixtape would advance me to the next level with an extra life. Power up with the new offering". On April 20, 2011, Way released his mixtape Juice which cover was based on the film of the same name. Way stated he would also release a mini-movie of his own to go along with the mixtape, stating that he was headed to greatness with the mixtape. On July 15, 2011, Way released his ep mixtape entitled Bernaurd Arnault EP (Limited Edition). Then on August 1, 2012, Way released another ep mixtape entitled 21: EP. Then on August 31, 2011, Way released the mixtape The Last Crown the cover of the mixtape is based on the artwork the Flammarion Engraving. In September 2011, Way confirmed he is working on a new album, called Promise, which will be released in October. Way also released the cover & title of his second independent album via Twitter, entitled Skate Boy, which he said would be available in stores November 1, also via Twitter. On September 19, 2011, Way released the mixtape Supreme. It is known for Way going back to his old Pop Rap style. On October 30, 2011 Skate Boy (Deluxe Edition) was released & turned out to be a mixtape & not an album. On December 30, 2011, Way released another mixtape entitled Gold On Deck.
On January 9, 2012, Way released another mixtape for the beginning year entitled 50/13 which cover was based on ASAP Rocky's mixtape cover Live. Love. ASAP. On January 24, 2012, Way released a collaboration mixtape with his artist Young L entitled Mario & Domo vs. the World which cover was based on Super Mario Bros. Then On March 23, 2012, Way released a mixtape entitled OBEY which featured his promotional single "Too Faded". On June 3, 2012, Way talked about his upcoming album Promise and stated the reason he has put out so many mixtapes in the last two years because he feels like he has to put out a lot of music and be as creative as possible. On June 11, 2012, Way released another collaboration mixtape with upcoming rapper Vinny Chase entitled Double Cup City. On September 4, 2012, Way released a sequel mixtape to his mixtape Juice entitled Juice II, with it being known for Way going back to his old production style with the beginning lines "Soulja Boy Tell 'Em", it's also Way's most downloaded mixtape. His nmixtape entitled Young & Flexin was released on November 6, 2012. On December 25, 2012, Way released his mixtape LOUD, which he also for the first time distributed on iTunes.
On February 22, 2013, Way released his first mixtape of the year entitled Foreign. In March 2013 it was rumored that Way may be signing to Cash Money Records after getting a tattoo saying "Rich Gang" on his face, and being seen hanging with Cash Money artists Birdman and Bow Wow with his manager the same weekend. This continued after he added "Rich Gang" or "YMCMB" to his social media platforms. Soulja Boy had earlier reported that he was no longer with Interscope Records after his record deal ended, after releasing his third studio album. Way also announced that his album Promise has been changed to USA DRE. On March 15, 2013, he released the first single from the album, titled "Handsome". Following that on March 25, 2013, he released the EP, All Black. On April 24, 2013, Way released his mixtape Foreign 2. Three days later, Way released the cover art to his next mixtape entitled King Soulja which was released on May 5, 2013. On May 26, 2013 Way released his second EP entitled Cuban Link. On June 13, 2013 Way announced that he has changed his album title once again to Life After Fame and that it would be released to stores on July 30, 2013. On June 25, 2013 Way released his first single from the album entitled "Ridin Round" to iTunes, but it was later dubbed a promotional single. On June 30, 2013 Way released Life After Fame as a mixtape and not as an album. On September 24, 2013 Way released his mixtape entitled 23. On November 30, 2013 Way released his mixtape The King. On December 28, 2013 rapper/singer Drake collaborated & remixed Way's intro track "We Made It" from his mixtape The King.
On March 18, 2014 Way released his first mixtape of the year entitled King Soulja 2. On April 20, 2014 Way released his retailed mixtape Super Dope, it featured an appearance from Busta Rhymes. On May 19, 2014 Way was featured & also produced Nicki Minaj promotional single "Yasss Bish", the song has been met with critical reception. On June 8, 2014 Way announced he was currently working on his new mixtape project King Soulja 3 & it would feature appearances from Lil Wayne, Drake, Migos, Young Thug & Wiz Khalifa.
Way has been best known for his rudimentary lyrical verses, rhyme schemes, song structure as well as the embodying the quintessential pop rap, snap music & Southern hip hop music style and has also been well known for his rudimentary repetitive, yet catchy hooks.
Speaking on his rapping technique and style, On November, 2010 during an interview with XXL Magazine while Way was explaining how he has grown as a MC he stated:
"I can't keep playin' around, because if you keep playin' around, people are gonna think you're a joke.... At some point, you have to get serious."
But don't get it twisted, Soulja doesn't wanna be the next Lupe Fiasco. I don't want to be super-Lupe-Fiasco-lyrical and niggas don't know what the fuck I'm talking about," he added.
"I want to be the best," he continued. "I want to be recognized in that category where I'm nominated for Best Rapper with Jay-Z and Kanye and Wayne. I wanna get a Grammy. I want Best Rap Album of the Year... I've made millions of dollars off of doing my style, but, hey, I can rap, too."
On December 5, 2010 Way clarified his earlier interview with XXL Magazine saying fellow rapper Lupe Fiasco was too "lyrical," explaining more in-depth why he doesn't keep a lyrically-based flow on every song. According to Way:
"XXL Magazine didn't publish my whole statement. And basically, the interviewer dude, he was asking me why do I make lyrical songs like 'Only God Knows,' 'Born'... 'The World So Cold,' and why do I make non-lyrical songs like 'Crank That' and 'Pretty Boy Swag'? And he was like, why don't I just be lyrical all the time? And I was telling him on a specific song, like 'Pretty Boy Swag,' I ain't wanna be all lyrical. I just wanted to be straight-up, and just be simple, so people can get what I'm saying 'cause it's a club song. But I wasn't saying as far as my whole music output, with all of my songs, that I don't wanna be rappin' like Lupe Fiasco."
Way further clarified there was no animosity between him and Fiasco and that the two had planned to record a song together.
Stacks on Deck Entertainment:
Way founded his record label Stacks on Deck Entertainment in 2004. While Way was signed to Interscope and Collipark Music. Since founding the label he has signed various artists, but he is the only artist to release an album on the label.
Soulja Boy (CEO/founder)
Arab 2059 (Boss Money/SODMG)
JBar aka Ja-Bar (TOKE Team/SODMG)
Way also produces records, including his own, primarily using the digital audio workstation, FL Studio. In 2009, Way produced V.I.C.'s single "Get Silly" which went certified Gold & Bow Wow's single "Marco Polo". Way beats often contain the beginning lines "Soulja Boy Tell 'em" But as of late Way has produced beats without using the lines. Also in 2009 Way was also supposed to been producing for Kanye West's fourth studio album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy & Kanye was supposed to been producing for Ways third studio album The DeAndre Way but for unknown reasons neither of them used each other's beats. On May 13, 2011, Way stated that he had produced & submitted beats for 50 Cent's fifth studio album Street King Immortal. In 2013 Way also produced for Lil Wayne's album I Am Not a Human Being II on the track "Wowzers". On May 6, 2014 during an interview Way announced he was producing for Diddy's upcoming album M.M.M. & he was also producing for Lil Wayne's upcoming album Tha Carter V. Soulja Boy also produced the song Yasss Bish, on Nicki Minaj's upcoming album, The Pinkprint.
On March 5, 2008, Way released his official clothing line of "S.O.D clothing". Then also in 2008 Way released his own brand of the popular shoe line entitled "Yums". On February 14, 2012, Way along with fashion designer D. Young created the official clothing line "Ocean Gang". In 2012 Way released another line he created BLVD. Supply, the store is located in Los Angeles, California.
In January 7, 2009, Soulja Boy announced that he was supposed to been releasing his own cartoon entitled Soulja Boy: The Animated Series but only one episode was ever released.
In August 2010, Soulja Boy announced a desire to make a film about himself, having reported to MTV News that he discussed the idea with Nick Cannon. He was later approached by Peter Spirer who presented his own concept for making a documentary about the artist. Directed by Spirer, Soulja Boy: The Movie was released direct-to-video on October 18, 2011, a date which coincided with Soulja Boy's arrest on a drug charge. The film contains live performances from his DeAndre Way Tour and interviews of Soulja Boy's father as well as current and former members of Stacks on Deck Entertainment. The documentary was panned by DVD Verdict as offering poor video transfer, since much of its music detail was taken from YouTube clips.
On April 22, 2011, Way announced that he would be making his acting debut playing the main role as Bishop on the Juice remake and that it would air on BET in sometime.
In 2013 Way announced and confirmed he was guest-starring in the upcoming movie Officer Down.
On December 9, 2007, Way was sued by William Lyons (a.k.a. Souljah Boy of Mo Thugs Family) who created the stage name Souljah Boy in 1996.
On October 7, 2009, Way was arrested in Atlanta, Georgia, on one count of obstruction, a misdemeanor, for running from police when he'd been ordered to stop while filming a video in an abandoned house. The rapper was released on $550 bond.
In May 2011, Way and his labels were sued by a local Pennsylvania promoter for failing to make promised payments in connection with a rescheduled concert.
On October 18, 2011, Way was traveling west on I-20 in Carroll County, Georgia, with four other men when their vehicle was pulled over for a vehicle equipment violation. The police officer who made the stop searched the vehicle and found more than five ounces of marijuana. Way was arrested and released on bond during the same day.
On January 22, 2014, Way was a passenger in his vehicle when the driver ran a stop sign in the San Fernando Valley, California. After it was pulled over, cops discovered that Way had a loaded handgun in the car. He was then arrested immediately and taken to jail. However, his manager claimed that a neighbor left the gun under the car seat, meanwhile Way was left unaware that it was there. Way only admitted to owning the vehicle, not the weapon to the police.
On February 15, 2014, Soulja Boy announced via Twitter that he was going to jail in five days time. He did not confirm the reason as to why, although it could possibly stem from the January 2014 arrest when cops found a loaded gun in Soulja Boy's car. Soulja ultimately never appeared to turn himself in to authorties and the details of his charges are unknown.
On December 30, 2008, Way was robbed and battered in his home. Initial reports indicated that the robbers were six masked men with AK-47s and pistols but on December 31, 2008, videos surfaced on the Internet of two masked men claiming sole credit for the crime. Soulja Boy described the incident to MTV News a month later: He had come home very late at night after attending an album release party and was recording songs with friends when the robbers came in pointing their guns.
On the night of March 22, 2011, Way's little brother Deion Jenkins was killed in a car crash.
Way's music has been banned from some school dances for alleged sexual or violent content and/or innuendos. However, he has denied these claims. In the original YouTube video for "Shootout", Soulja Boy demonstrates his dance while holding a handgun in each hand and pretending to shoot into the audience.
In June 2008, on DJ Cisco's Urban Legend mixtape, Ice-T told Way to "eat a dick" and criticized Way for "killing hip-hop" and his song "Crank That" for being "garbage" compared to the works of other hip-hop artists such as Rakim, Das EFX, Big Daddy Kane and Ice Cube. The two then traded videos back and forth over the Internet. Rapper Kanye West defended Way by arguing that the younger artist created a new, original work for hip-hop, thus keeping the authentic meaning of the music. The feud was parodied in a 2010 episode of The Boondocks.
In May 2011, Way's feud somewhat reignited with Ice-T again regarding the film Juice. Way stated he would also release a movie of his own to go along with his mixtape of the same name again somewhat reignited with Ice-T following a statement during Ice-T's interview with Shade 45 in late April 2011. Ice-T stated that Way's role as Bishop, which was famously originated by Tupac Shakur was not an issue. But Ice-T would find the fact that the film being remade is problematic saying ""What?" he said. "But that's Pac... At some point, somebody gotta stop it. I came out. I made some statements. Man, I don't know. Do you, dude, do you. If the masses accept it, it shows you the state we're in... Come on man, you think I'd try to remake Pac's movie? Good luck though, I'm not a hater ... eh." Way himself barraged Ice-T with retaliatory tweets on the same day, joking that someone should "get this guy a hairline."
On December 9, 2008, Charles Hamilton commented in an interview by saying that Way was making it harder for new artists to be signed. Way responded by saying "X out the Sonic and fuck with Mario, you might want to got damn eat a mushroom"(Charles Hamilton is known to be a big fan of Sonic the Hedgehog).Charles Hamilton responded with the diss song "I'm You Last Year With Talent". Then the diss song "Word Aight".
On February 2, 2009, Way challenged Bow Wow to a race in their Lamborghinis and claimed Bow Wow's Lamborghini was a rental. On February 4, 2009, Bow Wow proved that he owned his Lamborghini and said "its halloween in Bankhead for you everyday nigga..you scared..you all nervous and shit". Way responded on Twitter by saying "HE FUCKED UP!!!! IM BOUT TO SHITTTT ON THIS NIGGA!! LOL!!!!!". On February 7, 2009, both artist sent diss songs to each other such as Way's "Fuck Bow Wow" & Bow Wow's "What I Think About You". Later that day during a phone conversation both rappers settled their differences.
U.S. Armed Forces:
In September 2011, Soulja Boy released the song "Let's Be Real". One of the lines of the song went: "Fuck the FBI and fuck all the army troops / Fighting for what? Bitch, be your own man / I'll be flying through the clouds with green like I'm Peter Pan." After the song was released, Soulja Boy was highly criticized by military members and their families, especially in regards to the timing relative to the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Soulja Boy apologized, "When I expressed my frustration with the US Army, not only did my words come out wrong, I was wrong to even speak them." He adds, "So, I write this to give my sincerest apology to all members of the United States military services, as well as their families that were offended by my most recent lyrics." Representatives for Soulja Boy have indicated that the song has been pulled from his upcoming album, Promise, and will not be available for sale. They are also attempting to remove the video from the internet.
On September 6, 2011, TMZ reported that Way's album wouldn't be sold at the 3,100 Army and Air Force base exchanges if it included the song "Let's Be Real".
On August 25, 2012, Way made controversial comments towards fellow rapper Hopsin on one of his webcam chats with his fans when Way stated "fuck Hopsin, I'm about to go in the studio and record this Hopsin diss real quick". Way continued on by stating the words "that nigga's a bitch, fuck that bitch-ass nigga". The situation was caused by Hopsin's controversial song "Sag My Pants" which was a direct diss towards Way with the lines "Soulja Boy you got a corny flow, So you can suck my fucking dick through a glory hole" though Way previously didn't focus on the diss. But on August 28, 2012, on Way's Tinychat, Hopsin & Way confronted each other, though Hopsin admitted he liked Way nothing was really resolved. On September 3, 2012, Way released the Hopsin diss. It was entitled "That Nigga Not Me". Hopsin has not responded to the diss yet.
Chief Keef and Ballout:
On April 19, 2013, Way sent a number of death threats to Chicago rapper Chief Keef via Facebook. The threats were likely provoked by an earlier incident, where Keef's affiliate Ballout stole Way's chain and bragged about it on Twitter. Way posted both of Keef's cellphone numbers, urging people to notify him he's coming for him with a gun. He continued posting, stating he's in Keef's hometown of Chicago and asking Keef and Ballout to come to him. Chief Keef responded that he is currently in London but would talk to Way on his new number. Later the same day, Way issued a statement that his Facebook, Instagram and email were hacked and none of the earlier messages were written by him. On June 1, 2014 Way revealed on his Instagram that him & fellow artist Chief Keef had resolved their differences, little is known as to whether Way has settled his differences with Ballout.