Introducing Soulja Boy
MTV News speaks to the 18 year old from Atlanta whos started a dance craze with his Crank That track
The music world is awash with internet phenomenons " Lily Allen, Kate Nash, Sean Kingston " the list goes on. But no one - perhaps ever - has used the web as effectively as DeAndre Way aka Soulja Boy.
He started making beats at home with a childhood friend whilst still at school and by the age of 14 had built a fan base and a record label (Stacks on Deck Entertainment).
When I started I was just kidding around and doing parodies of other peoples songs Soulja Boy told MTV News. Then one day I did a real song and it was getting 30,000 downloads a day.
The blue touch paper was lit, and within months the now infamous hit Crank That was written and recorded, a dance was invented and a video was shot. With Crank That I wrote the beat in my living room, then me and my friend made up the dance.
SB continued: Then I wrote the lyrics. It did 14 million on YouTube, 10 million on MySpace, then I got my deal " and my life changed!.
But one thing that didnt change was the fledgling rappers marketing strategy. This is all me. This is what I was doing before I got my deal and even coming into the huge music industry I didnt want to change anything I was doing.
The secret of the track and the dance seems to be in their simplicity. Everyone can learn both with ease and have leant themselves to scores of spoofs and remixes.
No doubt you will have come across at least one of them by now " Winnie The Pooh, Barney, Sponge Bob, Dora The Explorer, even Premiership footballers " all putting their own twist on the craze and adding to the momentum. So does the man himself have a favourite? My favourite is the Barney one. It looks like hes actually singing the words to the song.
As always, with huge success (7 weeks on top of the US charts, a BET Award, performances with Kanye West etc etc) comes criticism. Many have dubbed Soulja Boy and his peers ring-tone rappers, intimating they are in the game to make a quick buck and not for the love of the art.
He answers: At the end of the day Im not making music for those kinds of people. If my core audience were saying bad things about me, the people I make my music for that go out and buy my album, then thats going to hit me hard. If its just critics - thats not going to affect me at all.
So next time youre in a club and you see someone trying to take off in Superman fashion, youll know its arrived.
WRITTEN BY JAMES BARNES
Crank That (Soulja Boy) is out now on iTunes, and 17 December everywhere else