In September of 2007, his single "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The single was initially self-published on the Internet, and it became a number-one hit in the United States for seven non-consecutiveweeks starting in September 2007. This makes him the youngest person (16 years 10 months) to write, perform, and produce a number-one song on the Hot 100, a title that was previously held by Deborah Gibson (17 years,11 months) for almost 2 decades. Despite his commercial success, his music has been the subject of ridicule from critics.
DeAndre Way was born in Chicago and moved toAtlanta 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.
Career beginnings and souljaboytellem.com (2005–2008)
Soulja Boy performing "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" in February 2008.
In November 2005, Way posted his songs on thewebsite 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 itsfirst 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 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 releasedin the United States on October 2, peaking at #4 on both the Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. On December 9, 2007, Way was sued by William Lyons (aka Souljah Boy of Mo Thugs) who claims he first created the stage name "Souljah Boy".
For the 50th Grammy Awards, Way was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Song with "Crank That (Soulja Boy)". He lost to KanyeWest's and T-Pain's "Good Life".
Souljaboytellem.com received a favorable review from Allmusic but received mainly negative ones, such as from 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.
In June 2008, on DJ Cisco’s Urban Legend mixtape,Ice-T 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. One of the comments in the exchange was when Ice-T told Way to "eat a dick". The two then traded numerous videos back and forth over the Internet. These videos included a cartoon and video of Ice-T dancingon Way's behalf and an apology, but reiteration of his feelings that Way's music "sucks", on Ice-T's behalf. 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 follow-up to souljaboytellem.com, iSouljaBoyTellem, was released on December 16, 2008, to negative criticalreception. 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. "Kiss Me Thru the Phone", with Sammie, followed, peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Hot Rap Tracks charts.
The DeAndre Way (2009–present)
The DeAndre Way is the rapper's upcoming third studio album. Way has stated that...