Soulja Boy knows that improving his lyrical skill is essential to longevity in Hip-Hop. However, the 20-year-old rapper is also promising not to deceive fans with pretentious music as he works torwards that goal.
Since beginning his career as a 17-year-old, Soulja Boy’s music has been the source of derisive comments for older rappers such as GZA, Ice-T and Snoop Dogg. Some fans have cited him as the poster boy for the degradation of lyrical skill in modern Hip-Hop.
Before, Soulja simply ignored those criticisms, or responded back by ridiculing his older peers as out of touch or bitter. But now as he approaches manhood and continues maturing as a musician, Soulja Boy has come to see some truth in his critic’s words. Recently, he told VIBE magazine that he studied Nas’ Hip Hop Is Dead album, after previously chastising his older peer for declaring that statement. Improving is one thing, but Soulja Boy doesn’t believe his fans or critics would respect him if he attempted to do a complete 180 with his style and content.
“At this point in my career, I don’t want to be something that I’m not, or give off an image that I’m not,” Soulja Boy told Beats, Boxing & Mayhem. “I came in the game as a 17-year-old kid who produced and made his own music. I definitely want to be respected as a lyricist, but I don’t want to portray like I came into Hip-Hop to be 100% pushing to be the best lyricist, spit the deepest messages, give kids knowledge to help them and all that.”
In the latest XXL magazine, Soulja Boy reiterated his point by stating he didn’t want to be “super duper lyrical” like Lupe Fiasco, resulting in “niggas not knowing what the fuck I’m talking about.” The quote inspired an old-school styled answer record from Fiasco in “Super Lupe Rap,” a lyrically dense and intricate song that laid out the different creative approaches to music between the two.
While Lupe regularly uses his music to provoke discussion on abstract concepts and social issues, Soulja Boy views himself as an artist whose primary focus is innocent fun. But he concedes that party music doesn’t have to have less technical proficiency, which is something he’s learned by collaborating with older emcees.
“I just came in to have fun,” Soulja Boy affirmed. “Now that I’m growing up, now I’m just starting to transition, as I’m rapping with bigger artists like Kanye and 50, to be respected as a lyricist. “
Soulja Boy’s next album, The DeAndre Way, will be released on November 30.
The most you can ask of any artist is that they attempt to get the most out of their talent. Soulja Boy appears to be doing just that by trying to improve his technical skills.
Soulja Boy understands nursery rhymes won’t fly for much longer with him. At 17, people could argue he was just a kid, although he was a year older than LL when he made Radio, and the same age as Nas when he made Illmatic. As someone born in 1990 who’s view of a classic album is 50 Cent’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, how can you really blame him if no one ever exposed him to the greats? He’s basically learning on the job, as evidenced by the fact the first Nas album he’s really delved into is Hip Hop Is Dead. To put things in further perspective, albums like Stillmatic and Blueprint came out when he was roughly 11 years old
In the meantime, Soulja shouldn’t be disrespectful to those who’ve studied and practiced their entire lives on their lyrical skills, like a Lupe Fiasco. Soulja may not have meant it that way, but I completely understand why Lupe dropped that answer record. Soulja came off as very dismissive of Lupe and others like him, whether intentional or not. As a writer, it would be like me reading a fellow journalist stating, “I want to be a better writer, but not on some super duper I love Hip-Hop and boxing forever like Ismael AbduSalaam with long ass articles.” Soulja must keep in mind that while he has one objective, some of his peers are striving for a deeper grasp of themselves and the world around them through music.
All things considered, I think Soulja Boy is on the right track. He doesn’t have to switch his content up. Some of the greatest Hip-Hop albums are full of nothing but debauchery and random tales of low morals. You can also see that in many movies, folk songs, and poetry that is considered classic. So while Soulja Boy doesn’t have to be so much concerned about turning into Chuck D, he does need to be aware that it’s not acceptable for him to be sounding on the mic like he just enrolled in pre-school.
We’ll see what improvements Soulja Boy shows on November 30 when the new album drops.