Soulja Boy laughs all the way to the bank
Published: June 30, 2011
Soulja Boy started out as just another anonymous upcoming rapper. Then, he came up with the shrewd idea that he could deliberately mislabel his songs in order to inflate their perceived popularity. Once they reached a certain number of views in the millions, he switched in his own name. Looking back on the ruse, he puts it this way: "I used to label my songs and videos as ‘50 Cent In Da Club,' or ‘Britney Spears' or ‘Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson' – any artist that I felt was popular and people would click on." The subtlety came by trying to tap into fans of artists who might also come to like Soulja Boy's own style of music.
The success of "Crank That" – and, by association, Soulja Boy – is a modern one, befitting an Internet that is run quantitatively: Success online is based on amassing downloads and pageviews, not the quality or worth of art. Rap elitists have criticized "Crank That" for its simplistic content, but its numbers are a nearly unprecedented win, with the song's video sitting at more than 100 million YouTube views and an accompanying instructional video detailing how to do the dance in the video at close to 50 million views. They're numbers Soulja Boy is still living off of today.
Soulja Boy insists that from day one he had a plan for success and he carried it out. By the time his Interscope debut album dropped, he'd checked off all the goals on a list he'd written in high school. He's cagey when pressed for further details about the nuances of this plan, promising only that the upcoming film of his life will explain it all. It's a move that might see him winning the numbers game all over again."
> Email Phillip Mlynar