Soulja Boy then released "Crank That," the top-selling digital track of 2007, according to Nielsen SoundScan, which at 3.9 million digital copies sold is the third-biggest song download since such data started being tracked in 2003. He's gone on to sell 943,000 copies of his debut album, "SouljaBoyTellEm," making him one of the few artists to sell this many digital singles and also sell a decent amount of physical copies of an album. When it comes to ringtones, "Crank That" has tallied 2.4 million, according to Nielsen RingScan (see chart, above).
"He's a smart kid," Crooms says. "Change in the music industry always comes with resistance, but he handles it all very well. He understands this business more than most grown men I know."
Soulja Boy is using this savvy to promote his sophomore set, "iSouljaBoyTellEm," out Dec. 16 from Collipark/Interscope Records. Producers Mr. Collipark, Polow Da Don and Drumma Boy helmed tracks for the set, while T.I., Shawty Lo, Sean Kingston, Yo Gotti and Gucci Mane—who Soulja Boy calls his mentor—make guest appearances.
The first single, the dance-inspired "Birdwalk," sold 10,000 downloads as of early December. "I'm just beginning to work the song—it always starts from the bottom up," Soulja Boy says about the so-far modest sales. "People didn't see the groundwork that went into 'Crank That,' they just saw the success and sales. It probably won't take as long with 'Birdwalk,' but it will still take a little time."
The accompanying video, directed by Erik White, was filmed at Morris Brown College in Atlanta—the same place where the footage for "Crank That" was shot—during a battle of the bands. Soulja Boy has participated in various battles, which consist of a competition between two bands from two different colleges, during which he performs "Birdwalk." "It takes place on Sundays and we have over 30,000 people out there at a time," he says.