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DeAndre Cortez Way (born July 28, 1990), known professionally as Soulja Boy Tell 'Em, or simply Soulja Boy, is an American rapper, record producer, actor, and entrepreneur. In September 2007, his debut single "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100. The single was initially self-published to the internet, and 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 #18 on the Forbes list of Hip-Hop Cash Kings of 2010 for earning $7 million for that year.
Way has 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).
Way was born in Chicago and moved to Atlanta at the age of 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 established accounts 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)" had received its first airplay and Way met with Mr. Collipark to sign a deal with Interscope Records.
2007–08: Souljaboytellem.com and iSouljaBoyTellem
On August 12, 2007, the song appeared on the Emmy-award winning HBO seriesEntourage, and on September 1, it topped the US Billboard Hot 100 and Hot RingMasterscharts. 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)". But lost to Kanye West 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 the 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[when?] 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.
2009–10: 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, Kanye West and 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 and 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 was 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 reached number 34 on theBillboard 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 Way 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 Songs. The DeAndre Way was released on November 30, 2010, and has so far[when?] only sold 70,000 copies making it Way's lowest selling album. Way was to be part of the Summerbeatz tour held in Australia alongsideFlo Rida, Jay Sean and Travie McCoy in November 2010, but in lieu of his current album's release date Way had declined the offer and just embarked on his "Who They Want" tour.
2011–present: Various mixtapes, EPs and Blessed
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, with Way 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 would be released in October. Way also released the cover and 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. On October 30, 2011 Skate Boy (Deluxe Edition)was released as a mixtape and 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 the Nintendo video game Super Mario Bros. Then on March 23, 2012, Way released a mixtape entitled OBEY which featured the 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 is because he says 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 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 mixtape 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 toUSA 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 and 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 first digital album Super Dope, it features an appearance from rapper Busta Rhymes. On May 19, 2014 Way was featured and 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 and it would feature appearances from Lil Wayne, Drake, Migos, Young Thug and Wiz Khalifa. On June 29, 2014 Way would release King Soulja 3 as his second digital album via iTunes, it would feature appearances from Gudda Gudda and Rich The Kid. On October 31, 2014 Way released his mixtape Young Millionaire, it would feature appearances from Sean Kingston, Cap.1 and Rich The Kid. On November 17, 2014 Way announced via his Instagram that he had signed a new label deal with Universal Music Group and also revealed the title, cover art and release date to his fourth studio album entitled Loyalty originally scheduled for release on December 2, 2014, but then was pushed back to February 3, 2015.
On February 27, 2015 Way would release the first single from his fourth digital album King Soulja 4 entitled "Whippin My Wrist (Too Rich)" and it would chart on the Billboard Trending 140 chart at #48. On May 16, 2015 Way released his mixtape entitled Swag The Mixtape, it would feature appearances from Migos, Peewee Longway, Troy Ave, Johnny Cinco, Chief Keef, Pack Strong, Paul Allen, Chella H, Calico Jonez and Kyle Massey. On May 26, 2015 fellow Atlanta, Georgia artist Rich The Kid announced that he and Way would be releasing a collaboration album entitled Get Rich. On June 3, 2015, Way via his Twitter revealed the title, cover art and release date to his upcoming fifth studio album entitled Blessed which was released on July 28, 2015. Also On June 30, 2015, Way released a mixtape entitled 25 The Movie. On July 17, 2015, Soulja Boy released a new single titled "Actavis" featuring Migos taken from his fourth digital album King Soulja 4, which was released on July 30, 2015. On July 23, 2015 Way released his mixtape entitled M & M: Money and Music. On July 30, 2015 Way would release King Soulja 4 as his fourth digital album, it would also be released independently by his label Stacks on Deck Entertainment, it would feature appearances from Migos, ReeseMoneyBagz, Dae Dot & Sean Kingston. On September 1, 2015, Way released a single entitled "Diddy Bop". On September 24, 2015 Way released a single entitled "Gratata" along with an accompanying music video. On September 28, 2015, Way released a mixtape entitled Plug Talk. On November 9, 2015, Way premiered a single entitled "Make It Rain". On November 24, 2015, Way released a mixtape entitled S. Beezy.
On January 14, 2016, Way released a single entitled "Drop The Top", and on January 24, 2016, Way premiered the music video. On January 24, 2016, Way released a standalone single entitled "Stephen Curry" taken from the NBA professional basketball player of the same name, and on February 6, 2016, Way also had a music video for the song as well. On February 10, 2016 Way released another mixtape titled Finesse EP. On February 14, 2016 Way released a mixtape entitled King Soulja 5. On March 15, 2016 Way would release his fifth digital album entitled Stacks On Deck; it would be released independently by his label Stacks on Deck Entertainment; it would feature appearances from Agoff, King Reefa, Lil Yachty & Rich The Kid. On June 9, 2016, despite stating that Blessed was supposed to be his fifth studio album, he released out of surprise his 5th album titled Better Late Than Never instead. On July 21, Way released two new songs titled "Take a Trip" featuring King Feefa and Go Yayo, and "Wanna Be Like Soulja". "Take a Trip" was the first single off his mixtape Money Gang that was released on July 28 while "Wanna Be Like Soulja" was premiered as a standalone single, but was accompanied by a music video. He then released two new singles on the 24th and 27th of that same month titled "Rockstar" and "No Time" which were included on Money Gang and Better Late Than Never. On September 16, 2016, Soulja Boy released a single featuring Boosie Badazz titled "Same Dream Different Hustle".
Way is best known for his rudimentary and superficially lyrical verses, vacuous and insipid subject matter, convoluted rhyme schemes, vague song structure, as well as the embodying of the quintessentially trivial snap and Southern hip hop music style. Way has also been well known for his rudimentary and repetitive hip hop production style, with nonetheless catchy hooks incorporated into his songs.
Speaking on his rudimentary rapping technique and vacuous lyrical style, In November, 2010 during an interview with XXL Magazine while Way was explaining how he has grown as an emcee he stated:
On December 5, 2010 Way clarified his earlier interview with XXL Magazine saying fellow rapper Lupe Fiasco was too "lyrical," explaining more in-depth that he wanted to keep the rudimentary music style he developed and justified why he doesn't keep a lyrically-based flow and more substantially profound lyrical subject matter on every song. According to Way:
Way further clarified there was no animosity between him and Fiasco and that the two had planned to record a song together.
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