These past months have been a rollercoaster ride for Soulja Boy. Months after his third album, "The DeAndre Way," failed to make a big impact on the Billboard 200, his 14-year-old half-brother passed away.
But the 20-year-old Internet imp has channeled the negative and turned it into positive, birthing a new mixtape, "Juice," to be released Wednesday (Apr. 20).
On the eve of release of his mixtape, Soulja Boy took some time to talk to Billboard.com's The Juice about his upcoming projects, teaming up with the original cast from "Juice" the film, and being grateful for 50 Cent.
The Juice: What are you trying to accomplish with your mixtape, "Juice?"
Soulja Boy: We put together a classic for the fans, for the streets, for the clubs. I'm giving my fans what they want to hear with this mixtape. I think this mixtape is going to set the tone of where I'm heading in my career. I'm headed towards greatness. I think I'm making history in hip-hop. This whole summer, with all these projects, people going to look at me and [be] like, 'Soulja Boy, you know what you're doing.'
Why not just focus on a new album?
Really, because I have more advantage. I want fans to really feel the music. With an album, it's going to be a whole process; get the beats and samples cleared, features [done]. On a mixtape I can do whatever I want to do without any consequences. It's just me 100%, full creativity in the studio. It's everything I'm saying and everything I'm doing. And I can get it to my fans for free. It's not even about the money, it's about the fans.
Aside for interviews like this one, how are you promoting "Juice?"
I've been putting out promotional videos of what [fans] can expect from this mixtape. I got 200,000 views, in a day, off of one promotional video, 'cause they're getting amped. Rage, who shot "Crank That" and "Kiss Me Thru The Phone," basically all my most successful music videos, is going to direct the mini-movie to this project. I wanted to go for a 2011 version of "Juice," the movie, but with my [own] flavor. I'm trying to show off my acting side, 'cause I'm trying to break into being an actor as well. Actual actors from the [original] "Juice" movie reached out and wanted to be a part of the production. We start filming, here in Atlanta, on the 28th.
I'm going to shoot three music videos, also. I'm going to pick three of the songs ["Juice," "Zan with that Lean," and "That Right" featuring Diamond] that I feel like set the tone for the whole mixtape, and make music videos [for each] with Rage.
Is the "Juice" mini-movie based on your life or on the mixtape?
It's the story of the mixtape. It has most of the music from the mixtape incorporated through out the whole movie, from start to finish.
You see rappers dropping mixtapes, what they do? They drop them on the Internet, right? Me. I'm pressing up, like 30,000 mixtapes. I'm going to meet up with my friends ,give away around 1,000 shirts and 1,000 mixtapes and rock it in the streets. Everyone knows I started the whole Internet thing, I'm still on the internet but I'm also going to bring it to the streets. People are going to want the physical mixtape in their hands, see the cover art. I want the fans to have it in their hands, let them know that I care.
Are there any features in the mixtape that we should look out for?
I signed a new producer to my label, Kwony Cash -- he produced "Zan with the Lean," which has the streets and 'net on fire. We got this other track called, "That Right," with Diamond of Crime Mob. We killed that! Also produced by Kwony Cash. I kept it in house, I got 2 Chainz, J Money, Lil B, Jabari. It's original, it's all juice dope music. The streets are going to love it.
You've gone through some tough times recently. Is there anything you wish you'd done differently?
I've been through situations that were crazy, but I felt like everything turned out to be great. I went through a situation I've never gone through in my life, and [thankfully] even 50 Cent reached out to me. Now, I'm in a very great position. I'm grateful for my family, keeping me grounded, and all of the fans that stuck through it all with me -- everyone that kept it real with me, that messed with my music and me as a person.