“I slept through my Google meeting,” Soulja Boy told me, before beginning our interview for the second episode of Billboard.com’s The Juice new series, ‘ Swag or No Swag.’ Soulja Boy, born DeAndre Cortez Way, had a 10 a.m. meeting with Google to discuss their Google+ social networking site on Tuesday morning (Oct. 25). “They want Soulja to lead [an] early campaign with setting up and ‘crashing’ the hang-outs you can set up on Google+ with your social media contacts,” a rep of Soulja Boy tells Billboard.com’s The Juice.
“I’ll call them back,” Soulja Boy said of Google.
Soulja Boy is transitioning to a man. Unfortunately, as with other teen acts, that growth is in the public eye, and in Soulja Boy’s case, it’s been filled with adversity, such as his recent run-in with the law. On October 18, the same day his documentary, ” Soulja Boy: The Movie,” was released, the 21-year-old rapper/actor was charged with felony possession after getting pulled over for a traffic violation and being caught with “substantial amount” of weed, cash and guns.
Ironically, the only person Soulja Boy spoke briefly to on the matter, when I was around, was his celebrity friend, Justin Bieber, who shared a phone conversation with the rapper. “What about the whole jail thing?” Bieber — who was apparently with Sean Kingston at the time — asked Soulja Boy, while on speaker phone. Soulja Boy calmly told Bieber that his lawyer got everything straight. “We will be praying for you,” Bieber responded before sharing his excitement of his new Cadillac.
Last week isn’t the only time this year that Soulja Boy has faced trouble. Soulja recently sparked controversy when allegedly speaking negatively of the Army in his song “Let’s Be Real.” “F*ck the FBI and f*ck the Army troop,” Soulja rhymes on “Let’s Be Real.”
“Words are powerful. When I make mistakes I just try to come back and clarify what I meant,” Soulja Boy told The Juice. “I just handle [it] by having [people] around me that’s gonna be like, ‘Hey Soulja, you know, I don’t think you should say that shit.’
“Most of the time I go into the studio, if I’m not writing the song before I do the beat, I just freestyle. So that’s how I get messed up. If I say something bad on a track, most of the time, it was said non-consciously,” he said.
Soulja Boy has grown lyrically and physically — check out his newly bleached-blonde hair, for instance — since his 2007 Hot 100 No. 1 hit, “Crank That (Soulja Boy).” But as with many 21-year-olds, his sense of caution extends to a certain point.
“Yeah I have people saying, ‘You should slow down.’ You know what I’m saying?” Soulja Boy shared. “[But] from a creative standpoint, [people] mostly get what I be trying to do. I don’t really mean no harm. I’m not out here doing some evil shit, you know what I’m saying? If I’m doing something its coming from a kind heart. It mostly be like a young kid with money; just having fun as friends. When I do stuff like smoking and playing video games and stuff like that like I guess I don’t think of the severe-ness of it.”
Still, Soulja Boy has the heart of an exuberant kid. I could see it while riding around NYC with the rapper, as he played Super Mario Brothers on his iPad (his “favorite game of all time”) and anxiously waited for a girl to reply to his DM.
On our way to his DVD in-store signing at Community 54 on 54 Clinton St., before calling his manager, founder and CEO of Violator and Brand Asset Group, Chris Lighty, to find out studio availability, Soulja Boy called Busta Rhymes to see if he’d come by the studio to lay down a few verses for Soulja’s upcoming fourth studio album. But before Soulja Boy could ask, the phone call drops. “Wait, did he just hang up? Do I call him back?” As he laughs off the incident, Drake‘s “Headlines” begins to play, and his iPhone buzzes. It’s Busta Rhymes, who more than happy agrees to meet up with Soulja that same night.
Soulja Boy hasn’t been one to let controversy and scrutiny stop him. After releasing his mixtape, ” Juice,” earlier this year, Soulja Boy is back in the studio, crafting something he’s sure will awe his fans, his label, Interscope Records, and “copycats.”
“‘What do we got to do to make it a success?'” Soulja Boy said his label Interscope Records asked him when meeting on Monday (Oct. 24) upon his NYC arrival. “I’m going to take it to the next level. If you ever notice, if I make the beat, the song is just out of here. I’m really going to bring that back.”
Soulja Boy’s third studio album, “The DeAndre Way,” failed to make a big impact on the Billboard charts. “The DeAndre Way” debuted on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart on Dec. 18, 2010 at No. 18 and went down from there, according to R&B/Hip-Hops Charts Manager, Karinah Santiago. The last time “DeAndre Way” charted was April 9, 2011 at No. 73.
“I just want to find a way to make [music] better and be innovative. I’m confident. I’m very confident,” Soulja Boy said. “If I got to be the Steve Jobs of [the] f*ckin’ music industry then so be it.”
Besides producing his own beats as he did when starting in the game, Soulja Boy plans to call on a few friends for his upcoming album, due early 2012.
“Drizzy [ Drake]. Me and Drizzy. We definitely going to drop something. Definitely Busta Rhymes, Lil B,” Soulja Boy said. “I mean there’s artists out there, but its like, shit got dry in the last few years. N*ggas be trying to sound like me and shit. I listen to a hit, its like ‘Okay it’s a hit, but it sounds like me.'”
“Every time I do something they copy it,” Soulja Boy said of competitors. “I mean its cool, it makes me bigger and shit. But it’s just like… Once you do so much copying, I can’t do me then.”
“Swag,” Soulja Boy said as we end our chat at 5:30 pm, Tuesday. As I walked out, Soulja Boy hurried to the phone to call for room service, seeing that he hadn’t ate since that morning. “Chicken tenders… and a Shirley Temple,” Soulja Boy ordered before sitting back down to see if that special girl had replied to his DM yet.