Soulja Boy Tell’em is many things to many people. Apparently, prophetic is one of them. What began as juddering camcorder footage in his basement mutated into worldwide phenomenon. You’ve memorized the infectious hooks. The dance has been inexorably burned into your muscle memory. And the numbers confirm what you already know: 400 million views on YouTube; over five million downloads of the pandemic single « Crank That (Soulja Boy) »; seven weeks atop Billboard’s Hot 100 singles’ chart; more than five million ringtones sold; platinum status and beyond for debut album Souljaboytellem.com.
The 1s and 0s are beyond dispute, and frankly out of reach for competitive artists. But what of the Xs and Os of Soulja Boy Tell’em? Can sophomore record iSouljaBoyTellem match his own daunting precedent?
Such proclamations aren’t hype, even hyperbole, but sheer honesty. The gleam in his eye and his steadfast tone confirm. Then a bubbly and bubbling 16-year old, Soulja Boy Tell’em admits he didn’t take the process of his first biography, concocted just before his superstardom, all that seriously. Understandably, he couldn’t have predicted the global groundswell he was about to initiate: « All this happened off one song, one long run. One year of an adventure. If all that can happen in one year, off one song, from one person, I can do a lot more. » Though Soulja Boy Tell’em’s reign is still in its fledgling stages, his impact is lasting. He’s the classic American success story, a modern-day Horatio Alger tale expressed not in bound book but via video fragments and stadium-shaking refrains.
In that span of a year, the change is remarkable. Soulja Boy Tell’em is contemplative, careful with his words, wary of tenuous industry alliances, and focused on his next challenges. But he’s not forgotten the people and the sound that have vaulted him to his current perch. Owing everything, he says, to his fans, he rewards them by posting song after song onto YouTube for free consumption. Most notable among these releases is « Bird Walk, » his scalding new single. Featuring an accompanying dance, the instructional video to which has likewise been posted to the tune of 500,000 views, « Bird Walk » follows quite literally in the footsteps of « Crank That. » Fittingly, Soulja Boy Tell’em now offers the proper cladding for the Bird Walk: his own line of sneakers, courtesy of apparel manufacturer Yums. Fans yearning to walk a day in his shoes have at least the metaphorical opportunity by visiting Finish Line stores or www.yumsshoes.com on November 15th. To stamp the occasion, Soulja Boy Tell’em has recorded the song « Wit my Yums On » for inclusion on forthcoming album iSouljaBoyTellem.
Elsewhere on the internet, namely on Souljaboytellem.com, expect to see Soulja Boy Tell’em as you’ve never seen him before—drawn. The gifted animation team behind Adult Swim’s « Robot Chicken » has sketched out the Soulja Boy Tell’em cartoon. Combining live action with animation— »a newer, doper version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? »—the cartoon is set to premiere in November. Soulja Boy Tell’em and his friends will be drawn, with the rest of the characters human actors. The plotline promises plenty of frivolity: « The theme of the show is that I’m a big rap star and super celebrity but I still go to public school. So I’m trying to maintain the life of a regular high school student and a rap star at the same time. You might see me and my homeboys as cartoons clowning around in the classroom, and Meagan Goode might be the teacher. » Hmm. Sounds like standing room only in that class. To continue the cartoon theme, Soulja Boy Tell’em is shooting an entirely animated video for the song « Souljaboytellem, » also on iSouljaBoyTellem.