I want you to picture this: It’s 2007. Eight-year-old Caleb has just gotten picked up from his weekly Catechism class at his local church, and in his pocket sits his state-of-the-art, $20 navy-blue-and-grey camo MP3 player his mom bought him from Kohl’s as a reward for several months of not biting his nails (a habit I picked back up again because my mom no longer promises me camo MP3 players if I don’t do it – on a side note, this is holistically how we should reward success in our society: The Medal of Honor should be replaced with the MP3 Player of Honor, the Nobel Peace Prize with the MP3 Bangerz Prize and a Grammy award with… well… I guess a massive camo MP3 player? That was stupid, I’m sorry, carry on).
Among his music library on this MP3 player are classic bangers that could make Vincent Van Gogh cut off another man’s ear and become a “Silence of the Lambs” Buffalo-Bill-of-sorts as he sews the new ear onto his body, just to fully appreciate the music’s sonic artistry, and could make Spike Lee full-sprint onto a professional basketball court and spontaneously combust into a million little pieces of New York (which would include ripped-up pieces of Timbs, Carhartt shirts and Derek Jeter’s face) after hearing their cinematic arpeggios; songs such as Jesse McCartney’s “Beautiful Soul,” Nickelback’s “Rockstar,” two or three Smash Mouth heaters and the clean versions of a litany of different Lil Wayne songs.
Yet, there’s one song he heard on the radio that he can’t seem to get out of his head, so he pulls up LimeWire and begins to download what’s going to be his favorite song of the year, a song that includes the dance he’ll practice every Wednesday after CCD to blow off steam from learning about God. It’s the stunning, striking, endlessly catchy and terribly outdated “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” by none other than Young Draco AKA Big Draco AKA our god and savior, Soulja Boy.
Watching the music video now is ridiculously entertaining. Y2K was just a tough time for humanity; we had all this new technology in its pubescent stages that was far too clunky, and people also decided to dress like they were either extras in “Fight Club” or like their closet suddenly became gorged with clothes that belonged to somebody that had the exact opposite body shape as them. It was just a strange time, and Soulja Boy’s video for “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” sums it up oddly well. There’s the hilariously terrible graphics that are superimposed over the phone and computer screens of people watching Soulja Boy crank that. There’s the opening scene, where Mr. Collipark, the head of record label company Collipark Music, reaches out to Soulja about signing him to a deal… through INSTANT MESSAGING – to which Soulja IMs him back, “Meet me at my crib… ” and then immediately daps up his boy in an oversized blue polo. And I can’t forget maybe the two best parts of the music video: the absurdly cheap Stop & Shop white-framed sunglasses that Soulja Boy simply writes “Soulja Boy” on the lenses, and the flip phones… oh… the flip phones.
The video is just a perfect summary of 2007.
I loved Soulja Boy when I was 8. I’m not joking, I practiced the “crank that” dance every day. It was my bread and butter, my John 3:16 (although I was taking CCD and John 3:16 should’ve been my John 3:16). Regardless, I loved the dance and the song and wanted to crank that as hard as anybody. Eventually, I stopped cranking that, and I stopped listening to the song, and I grew up and forgot all about the man who donned an XXXXXXL-sized shirt despite his 5’8” frame.
Yet, over the course of the last year or so, I keep hearing about the man who was supposed to be the one-hit wonder of 2007, and while it’s not his music that’s making headlines anymore, he’s still in the news cycle 12 years after his breakout radio hit.
These days, Soulja Boy is a walking, talking meme, and everything he does seems to be outrageous. On his new website, the SouljaStore, you can buy a wide array of items that are near-exact copies of other items, just with the word “Soulja” placed in front of their title. You can find the SouljaPods, the SouljaConsole (which is sold out now), Soulja socks that have weed leaves on them and a wide variety of other Soulja items, including jewelry such as the “I’m the Plug” necklace that is a counterfeit gold wall outlet plug that hangs around your neck. It’s all very strange and extremely funny, but when you listen to his explanations, he might actually have a point in what he’s doing.
While I have no idea if the products he’s selling even work well or not, and while they’re probably nowhere near the quality of the items he’s ripping off, at the very least, he has a point about the profit margin he’s making off of these items and the cost he’s selling them for. On his meme-able interview on “The Breakfast Club” radio show, Soulja Boy explains the selling and making of his SouljaPhone and other items with, “My product is assembled in China just like the iPhone… if you turn the iPhone around and look on the back, it says what? ‘Assembled in China.’ So why are they knocking me for getting my product made in China, but you’re praising the iPhone that’s overpriced a** s***.”
And then once they prod him more, Soulja Boy asks Charlamagne and the rest of the hosts how much they think it costs to make an iPhone in China versus how much they sell it for: “How much is that in profit (for Apple)? Like $980? So who really is the bad guy? Me or Apple?” While the Soulja items probably hardly work and are just counterfeit versions of name brand electronics, he’s making a pretty interesting point about the monopoly Apple has created and how overpriced their items are, just because people will still buy them no matter how expensive they become. And to think this isn’t even nearly the best or most interesting part of the hour-long interview.
The best part of the interview is the most well-known part of the interview, and I’m going to give you the whole quote with no breaks because it’s that perfect. First, as a preface, the hosts are questioning whether he or Meek Mill had the better comeback year, after Meek Mill was released from prison, came out with a number one song and a number one album and regained some of the fame he lost after having largely lost a rap beef with Drake that slowed his mainstream success.
Charlamagne tells Soulja Boy in defense of Meek Mill having the better comeback year, “But you didn’t beef with Drake, the biggest rapper in the world!” Soulja’s response is as follows:
“Draaaake?! Draaaake?! The ***** that got bodied by Pusha T? The ***** that is hiding his kid from the world, but his world want to hide from the kid? Aubrey Graham in the wheelchair? Drake?! Stop playing with me in here. Y’all talking about the lightskin ***** from Degeneres? Stop playing with me like I didn’t teach Drake everything he know. Y’all ain’t hear his first song? ‘Tell me, what’s really going on / Drizzy Drake back up in this thing, I’m ready.’ That’s Soulja! That’s my bar! He copied my whole f****** flow! He copied my whole f****** flow! Word for word, bar for bar! Don’t act like I didn’t make Drake. Don’t do that. Don’t do that. … Draaake? Aubrey?”
Soulja became completely exasperated, and while throughout the interview he seems to have an answer for everything they throw his way and continually cuts off the hosts, this seemed to be the boiling point of his frustrations. “Draaaaake” has become a well-known meme, Soulja has entered back into mainstream relevance and I am eternally happy to know my third-grade hero is still making his mark in 2019.