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SOULJA BOY: The Full Oct/Nov Cover Story

SOULJA BOY is boiling inside. Despite his building anger, he clings to his resolve as his father asks that same damn question. He’s infuriated, yet sits quietly, praying for a conclusion to his father’s preaching. That is until young’n’s invocation is answered, allowing him to answer.

“No, Dad” Soulja says. “I don’t do no drugs.”

Six years later, remembering that exchange is still uncomfortable for DeAndre Cortez Way, pka Soulja Boy. Even under the soft lounge area lighting of Doppler Studios, his favorite Atlanta recording studio, surrounded by a full comfort-zone cast of bodyguard, publicist, man- ager, engineers, artists and homeboys in the next room, the canary-diamond-bejeweled rapper gets caught up on memory lane, channeling his former 14-year-old self.

“My Dad was on me heavy about drugs,” remembers Soulja, slumped on a red two-seater couch, staring straight ahead at nothing in particular. “He found a little sack in my bedroom, but it wasn’t from drugs. They came from some earrings that I bought. He and my stepmother kept asking if I do drugs. So I finally just said, ‘Look, I rap. I’ma be a famous rapper. My name’s Soulja Boy.’ And started showing them everything I was doing on the Internet— my MySpace page and everything.”

Unbeknownst to Soulja’s parents, they were raising a hip-hop Doogie Howser—a young Black teenager who would revolutionize music marketing, promotion and profiteering through his infectious single-’n’-dance combo “Crank That,” which spread online and eventually landed him a major-label recording contract and a chart-topping single by the time he was 16 years old. In 2004, S.B. was already delivering catchy self-produced tunes for pay. He had the Internet going nuts and teenage girls going gaga, but his star power mostly resonated in pockets of America that were as small as they were adolescent. This was way before Soulja Boy accrued millions of worldwide fans and download residuals. Years before he became a social-networking guru earning $10,000 per sponsored tweet. And long before groupies started falsely accusing him.

This is when a teenage Soulja Boy was moving like Master P circa ’97. He wrote his own raps, produced his own tracks, pressed up and sold his own CDs (songs and beats, $5 each), and even helmed his own viral campaign. To get more ears on his original music quicker, the boy wonder used to title his song postings with A-list names (“New 50 Cent” or “Britney Spears”). He began splitting dollar-per- download profits with SoundClick.com (“I was trap- pin’ like 30 downloads a day”). Then came MySpace (“I had like 100,000 friends, but my hits were in the millions.”) and YouTube (“That’s when I really blew up”), which ultimately led to an Interscope deal through Ying Yang Twins producer Mr. Collipark’s Interscope-distributed Collipark Records (“I sat down with Jimmy Iovine and showed him all my computer statistics, and within weeks ‘Crank That’ was No. 1”). After a seven-week campout at Billboard’s No. 1 spot and over 70 million YouTube views, S.B.’s ingeniously titled debut album, souljaboytellem.com, mined platinum. Not bad for a country kid adorned in oversized baseball caps and hand-lettered shades. “I was really ahead of the game,” says Soulja. “I was dead-on since like 14.”

Soulja Boy turned 20 years young on July 28 of this year. He’s been a self-made multimillionaire since age 17. Even more impressive is the veteran- like stature he’s achieved in just three years on the strength of his Internet ingenuity. In this second decade of the new millennium, the World Wide Web is a necessary evil for all recording artists. Over the past five years, it’s helped conceive careers (Drake), raise a few to mountainous heights (Lil’ Wayne) and resuscitate some that had been left for dead (Joe Budden). Much of this can be credited to the ascendance of Soulja Boy Tell ’Em. “I feel like I’m a mastermind,” he says, eyes wide. “I got the labels running around trying to jock me.”

Flashing a smile as arrogant as his thigh-hugging Gucci belt, he adds, “I just feel like I’ve got it all figured out... because I know what it takes to take over the music game. I ain’t did it yet, [but] I got the blueprint.”


GUNNING DOWN ATLANTA’S Interstate 85 in his two- door Bentley GT the following day, Soulja couldn’t be happier. Not because it’s his day off; nor because he’s whipping around town with a $9,746 check on his lap. Can’t attribute it to the “new badass bitch” he plans to disrobe later today, either. He’s ecstatic because he’s on a call with Gucci Mane.

“Yo, I’m shootin’ my video in L.A. next week, man. Come fuck witcha boy,” he yells into his Black- Berry Torch. Once the phone call ends, Soulja’s cheese-grin is on 10. “Man I grew up listening to [Gucci] so much,” he tells of the rapper whom he collaborates with on “Gucci Bandana.” “That’s why when he dropped ‘So Icey’ I was so happy, because I was like, ‘My favorite rapper made it.’ Now I’m rappin’ with him— crazy.”

Soulja’s lack of lyrical influences might possibly be the diesel that fuels his greatest haters. Since the summer of 2008, critics and elder rappers like Ice-T have tagged the Superman choreographer king of rap’s “ringtone era”— infamous for his microwaved beats and verses written to birth new dances rather than innovative flows or poetics. Though he’s far from guilty, Soulja Boy pleads no contest. “Being so young I didn’t know there was such a thing as being lyrical,” he admits unapologetically. “I thought everybody just rapped. That’s when I had to get my knowledge of the game, like there’s lyrical rappers, party rappers and even R&B rappers. So I really got my knowledge from critics and haters.”

The truth of the matter is that Soulja is indeed the King of the Ringtone. On top of the global phenom that was “Crank That,” he stacked up two more hit singles in 2008: “Turn My Swag On” and “Kiss Me Thru the Phone.” The kid who used to rap into a $12 Walmart microphone for Bathing Apes sneakers has garnered career totals of nearly 13 million mobile sales and over 10 million digital downloads. In the new global village—a vast digital marketplace coursing with 4G networks and USTREAM feeds— Mr. Way is one of Interscope’s golden geese.

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HBCUs Got To Watch Beyonce's 'Homecoming' At Exclusive Screenings

Thanks to Beyonce and the good people at Netflix, HBCUs were able to watch the artist’s highly-anticipated release of her documentary, Homecoming, at advanced, on-campus screenings.

“Homecoming is nothing but fun, laughs, and amazingness,” one fan in attendance said in a video of the various screenings. They took place at Howard University, Morehouse College, Spelman College and Texas Southern University.

"More than anything it uplifted HBCUs and it empowered HBCUs,” another fan continued in the brief clip.

During the documentary, which was released on Wednesday (April 17), Beyonce discusses her appreciation of HBCUs, stating in the doc, “there is something incredibly important about the HBCU experience that must be celebrated and protected.”

See some reactions from students at these HBCUs below.

"More than anything it uplifted HBCUs and it empowered HBCUs."

Last night, #BeyoncéHomecoming took over @SpelmanCollege, @Morehouse, @TexasSouthern, and @HowardU. pic.twitter.com/CnzsIMAqHh — Strong Black Lead (@strongblacklead) April 17, 2019

The line is lit as we anticipate the doors opening for our exclusive, early campus @Netflix screening of #Homecoming, a film by Beyoncé. pic.twitter.com/WUTBykukD8

— Howard University (@HowardU) April 17, 2019

Beyonce showing love to other hbcu’s besides spelman, Howard & morehouse is why she’s the goat

— ManiLou💛 (@y0urfav3emani) April 17, 2019

Beyoncé wore, and more importantly OWNS Morehouse gear. that’s it, that’s the tweet.

— capricorn hoodrat (@notoriouslang) April 17, 2019

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Go Girl: Wendy Williams Is Getting Hit Up About Dates Post-Divorce

Wendy Williams hasn’t outright discussed the recent news regarding her impending divorce from her husband of 22 years, Kevin Hunter. She did, however, discuss that the date inquiries have been coming in strong.

During the “Hot Topics” segment of her self-titled talk show on Wednesday (April 17), Ms. Williams said that she was getting distracted while reading because her phone was buzzing off the hook with inquiries regarding interested, potential dates.

“I was minding my own business… All of a sudden, my cell phone rings and it's DJ Boof asking me out for dinner," she says to her audience. DJ Boof is her in-house DJ, and the camera cuts to him smiling.

"Then, I get back to reading my book and my phone rings again. No, it wasn't Boof. It was Charlamagne [Tha God]!” she revealed. “Charlamagne wanted to take me for dinner. So he says the night, and he says the time and I said 'I can't go because I'm going out with Boof for dinner. So Charlamagne says, ‘well, I know Boof, why don’t we both take you out?’”

Williams’ estranged husband discussed his transgressions in a statement to PEOPLE, saying “I am not proud of my recent actions and take full accountability and apologize to my wife, my family and her amazing fans. I am going through a time of self-reflection and am trying to right some wrongs.”

It appears that Wendy will be moving on just fine. Check out the clip below.

 

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Meanwhile on @wendyshow...

A post shared by The Breakfast Club (@breakfastclubam) on Apr 17, 2019 at 9:40am PDT

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Joey Bada$$ Wishes Nipsey Hussle Was Celebrated More When He Was Alive

Joey Bada$$ visited Ebro’s Beats 1 radio show, where he discussed the recent passing of rapper Nipsey Hussle. The outpouring of support for the 33-year-old’s musical and charitable legacies has been amazing to witness. However, Joey states that he wishes people celebrated the Victory Lap musician as hard as they are now, but while he was able to see his impact.

"Nobody thought we would lose Nipsey Hussle,” he told Ebro during Tuesday’s show (April 16). “He was one of those people that we thought we would have forever. As soon as we lose a person like that, everybody want to jump on the bandwagon. He should have been able to see the fruits of his labor... We gotta show love, we gotta spread love.”

The All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ MC said that people need to practice showing appreciation for the people in their life and who they come across, so that they are able to see their impact while they are here.

“It’s extremely important that you show appreciation for your favorite artists, your favorite people, your favorite friends, your favorite family members, whatever,” he continued. “It’s just extremely important you never waste those moments, you always appreciate them. Like you said, any moment it can go like that.”

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