First Hit #1: September 15, 2007
Giving Soulja Boy a record deal almost seems irresponsible. He was an internet sensation, a kid goofing around with some music software and making a dumb little song and a dumb little dance to go with it. It’s barely a song, it’s barely a dance, it’s barely a complete thought. In most other contexts, it would just amuse his friends and then get forgotten as they grow up and forget the series of in-jokes that lead to the song itself. He clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing here, in the video version the song runs out of steam before the song even starts, but he’s at least having fun and making something goofy that his buddies can enjoy. He’s got charisma enough that the popularity is somewhat understandable, his enthusiasm for his own terrible idea must have been at least somewhat infectious, but it’s also so repetitive and one-note that it’s impossible to hear the whole song and not get sick of it. It feels like a joke on every level, which is probably was – nobody could possibly say “Superman that ho” with a straight face – but the joke is beaten to death within the time frame of the song itself, let alone by the time it left the pop charts. But in a just and fair world, such a joke would have been shared between friends before disappearing forever.
But he got a record deal, and now he’s the kid who did Crank That. He got big stacks of money, lots of questionable tattoos, and became something of a punch line. Popular as it was, you can’t recover from something like Crank That, because it’s not a sustained idea. It’s a cash grab for everyone involved, an attempt to capitalize on what the kids these days are into without really understanding what the kids these days are actually into. Soulja Boy was given a music career before he had musical ability. We all suffered for it.