Soulja Boy’s sophomore and latest album “iSouljaBoyTellem” was a test.
Would this second year Hip-Hop artist’s career be solely defined by his 2007 debut album’s hit party single “Crank That”- which propelled the Chicago native to instant fame?
Or would the 18-year-old be able to prove his consistency as an artist in the music industry , and once again punch out another club rocker.
Well initially, the second album released in September, didn’t get the love Soulja thought it deserved. But as time progressed, it’s sixth single “Kiss Me Thru The Phone” caught fire, taking the no. 3 spot on the Billboard US top 100 and luring over one million downloads in ring tone sales. It’s a buzz which Soulja believes is the beginning of a massive turn-around.
“I think my plan for my second album wasn’t perfect,” Soulja Boy tells andPOP. “It wasn’t 100% thought through. For the first album, I was the new artist- and everything just fell into place- but for the second album, the plan wasn’t really what I wanted it to be, but now it’s starting to turn around. ‘Kiss Me Thru The Phone’ is killing the billboard charts right now, and ‘Turn my Swag On’ is taking the streets.”
Put a little star next to the latter, “Turn My Swag On”- which Soulja Boy is spinning a remix of with Lil Wayne and Keri Hilson. It’s a key part of his prophetic vision of taking his career to a new plateau.
“It’s been real good working with those guys- and where they’re at right now, it was great,” says Soulja Boy, who predicts the release date of the remix to be in a few weeks. “I think the remix is gonna take my career to a whole other level. It’s a pretty different song from ‘Crank That,’ but still has that same power behind when it’ll come on the radio or in the club. It’s definitely gonna be worth the wait.”
Hoping that the two singles form a killer duo, Soulja Boy plans to take on the country in full throttle this summer with a “Turn My Swag On: Tour.”
Looking back on his first tour experience in 2007- with Chris Brown and Bow Wow’s “Exclusive Holiday Tour”- Soulja Boy plans on making his second experience more successful, saying “I just want this to be bigger. I’ve got the two big singles on this album, and I really wanna perform it live to everyone as best as possible.”
The artist admits that touring the U.S. is one thing, but when heading towards the international scene, the butterflies erupt.
“Touring in other countries, it’s more exciting” says Soulja Boy. “I recently did a concert in Cancun, I was really looking forward to going over there- it was my first time and the view was beautiful, the fans were amazing. I also can’t wait to get back to Tokyo, I went there once while on tour, and it was unbelievable, I’m a big fan of the technology there. But yeah, when you have chances to book something overseas, it’s a whole other game, more overwhelming.”
And one of the most critical factors while on tour on stage, according to Soulja, is the choreography. Those catchy dances that have been branded into your mind over the past year even have the artist heading to the gym to train his stamina before hand.
“It’s very important to have the concert up to par with the actual video that they see on TV or YouTube,” explains Soulja Boy. “That’s what sells the tickets- they wanna see you do it in person. When we’re doing dances for a show, I try and get to the gym often to run and work on my cardiovascular, so that I can be great on stage dancing and rapping at the same time.”
“So I mean, yeah the dancing is important- when you have thousands of fans watching you live and snapping pics and taking videos, you have to have each step down perfectly, because if you mess up they’re gonna see it.”
What’s hard to believe is that all this life in super-stardom all began with the good’ole internet- basically the click of a mouse.
“I think that the Internet is very important for my career,” admits Soulja Boy, who got everything started back in November 2005, when he posted self-published songs from home on Soundclick, Youtube and Myspace.
His claim-to-fame hit single, “Crank That,” then ended up hooking him a deal with Interscope Records. The single graced the no. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven non-consecutive weeks.
“Everybody found out about Soulja Boy because of my original stuff online. That was my way to get a foot in the door. But I think I need it more now than ever, the MySpace page, Twitter and YouTube help me connect to millions of fans all over the world. They’re definitely a huge asset to my career.”
The numbers definitely do the talking: over 400 million YouTube views and close to 70 million MySpace views. And that massive fan-base and popularity has spawned many expansions in Soulja Boy’s career- including a clothing line, shoe line, and now believe it or not, an animated web series.
“Cartoons was always something that I wanted to do” says Soulja Boy who now has “Soulja Boy Tell Em : The Animated Series”- which debuted in January.
The show follows an animated Soulja who is forced to return back to High School, while in the middle of his celebrity life as a Hip-Hop artist. Soulja, with the help of his animated friends, is continually doing whatever he can to get out of his daily school routine.
“I got offered to do a lot of TV shows when I first came out, but we eventually decided to stick with the animated series,” says Soulja Boy.
“It’s a live action cam, something people would enjoy, and It’s pretty cool. When I first saw myself up there as a cartoon on screen, it was crazy, I mean I couldn’t believe it – I thought that I really made it out here in the industry. I’ve been doing music professionally for two years now, and I already have a web series, so it was unbelievable.”
The school’s principal, played by a live action Alfonso Ribiero (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) is always hot on Soulja’s heels to keep him in line.
Soulja Boy had nothing but praise for Ribiero, saying “this was the guy who worked with Will Smith for a long time. It was crazy for me to have that experience. He’s really funny to work with.”
There’s no question about it, the artist is taking advantage of any opportunity presented to further expand his young career. But one thing’s for sure, Soulja Boy still intends to continue his quest to overcome the label of one-hit wonder.
“I just wanna keep working hard to get one step further,” says Soulja Boy. “I think I’m on a good track now, the album heating up, the tour in the summer. It’s gonna be good.”