Screen shot 20101108 at 12.00.45 PM Screen shot 20101108 at 12.00.45 PM

SOULJA BOY: The Full Oct/Nov Cover Story [Pg 3]

If there’s any universal truth in today’s entertainment industry, it’s that everybody’s business is everybody’s business. While some believe Kat Stacks set up what was seen on camera, it’s evident that Soulja was entertaining a woman known for slandering celebs like Fabolous and Carmelo Anthony. (Fabo and Soulja have sparred on Twitter since the Kat Stacks run-in.) Instead of aiming for a publishing check like Karrine Steffans, Stacks kisses and tells via video uploads to the Internet. Hard to ignore the irony here: Soulja’s new-media introduction could have Dr. Frankensteined his own female monster. Still, with all the available kittens out there, why would Mr. Pretty Boy Swag choose Kat?

“You just never know somebody’s intentions,” he says, shaking his head. “I just gotta pray that the next female I’m with... I just gotta be smarter about these girls, because that one... She got my ass.”

“It’s a lot of hoes out there, and he don’t need to be involved in none of that,” says Mr. Jenkins. “If you choose to be with somebody like that you keep it private, use protection, and send her on her way.”

Though Soulja sparred briefly with Fabo on Twitter in the wake of the Kat-caine episode, Mr. Jenkins is the only reason S.B. gives the matter any energy. His Dad’s opinion of him means everything. In fact, author Malcolm Gladwell might theorize that, just as some Asians lead the world in arithmetic proficiency due to their regional ancestry, S.B. may be a superstar today because his father made him the ultimate outlier. DeAndre, raised in a single-parent home in Atlanta, knew no loves greater than rap and computers. His mother struggled financially, so when 11-year-old Dre spoke to his father for the first time and arranged a summer stay at his Battesville, Miss., home, his life changed forever.

“I asked him to write down everything he want- ed in life,” remembers Poppa Soulja, an engineer technician and welder. “He mailed it to me, and I got everything that was on the list. I didn’t miss one thing.”

No purchase on that list meant more to Tracy’s son and his future than that desktop Dell PC. With a financially comfortable father, an Internet connec- tion, and a room to himself, DeAndre decided to re- main in Mississippi. He would soon meet his uncle and fellow techie Justin, who was two years older. Justin would introduce him to the free production software Fruity Loops. While DeAndre may not be fully cognizant of the outlier he is, he does credit his dad with a sort of prophetic inspiration.

“I used to ride with my father a lot. And he would always tell me, ‘You gonna live better than me. You gonna have better things than I had.’ But I could never believe it,” he says. “Now I look at my Bent- ley, my Lamborghini, my house in L.A, my house in Georgia, my record label—just everything—and say to myself, ‘Wow, he was right.’”


NOW THAT DEANDRE WAY is no longer a teen, it’s a challenge to pinpoint exactly who Soulja Boy is. Next year, he’ll be eligible to follow Bow Wow’s and Jeezy’s precedent and drop the “Boy” from his stage name. As he nears adulthood, he faces a potential identity crisis when his public approaches a percep- tion fork in the road. On any given day he’s either one of the music biz’s most prodigious young thinkers (“Master P and Diddy did it with tapes and CDs. I’m doing it with the Internet”) or just young (“[When] I say, ‘All the girls are on me—swag,’ don’t get that misconstrued. That’s 100 percent real talk.”)

One minute King Kong ain’t got shit on him, the next he’s as harmlessly marketable as Curious George.

But right now he’s Tupac. Breaking from his VIBE shoot, he mean-mugs himself in the dressing room mirror between set changes. His black denim shorts are losing so badly to gravity that the bottoms of his boxer briefs almost crown his belt loops. A black wifebeater covers the collage of body art he’s acquired over the last couple years—face tats includ- ed. Two homies observe their buddy, mouthing lyrics to his own blaring music as if they paid admission. He makes trigger and middle-finger gestures, while three gold cables hang from his neck—the lengthiest donning a Bentley front grill in canary diamonds— swaying in rhythm with his skinny shoulders. It’s quite a scene.

More interesting, though, is the score to this scene: some pretty aggressive cuts off Dre’s upcom- ing LP. There’s no dance instruction or text flirting in these lyrics. Instead: audacity, adult posturing, bottle and model poppin’ over beats more suited for Rick Ross. It’s anybody’s guess how The DeAn- dre Way’s sweet-sixteen-ready cuts like “Blowing Me Kisses” and the Chris Brown– and Trey Songz– powered “Hey Cutie” will coexist with street cuts like “Boom” and “Big Steez,” which are replete with kush blunts, infrared beams and lofty claims (“I think I’m ’bout to make more money than 50 Cent”)—or, more importantly, how corporate America will react to the older, grittier Soulja Boy. While Interscope may be a bit nervous, management isn’t.

“Creatively I understand his genius,” says Soul- ja’s very hands-on manager Debby Coda, a late-20- something London transplant who’s one of Violator Management’s more creatively invested (Debby’s also the English voice on Busta Rhymes’ “Respect My Conglomerate”). “Even when I may not agree [with him] I feel in my gut that it will work. He knows his fan base better than anybody.”

Debby then notes who’s really running things. “We can advise and downplay certain things, but dig- itally we can’t stop him from doing anything. Soulja put ‘Pretty Boy Swag’ out, and then the label jumped on it after it blew up.”

Prince Tell ’Em is clearly not concerned with his once-pristine image. As of now there’s really no need to be. He’s conjured anticipation for his album with two commercially successful singles, his record label S.O.D (Stacks on Deck) is on the verge, with artists like Lil B murmuring in the underground; and his Hollywood career is scheduled to launch, thanks to Nick Cannon. When Mariah’s hubby was still a teenager, he wrote a movie about a juvenile delinquent who gets sent to a scared-straight pris- on. Cannon initially intended to play the lead himself. Figuring he’s too old for the role today, he felt Soulja Boy would be an ideal replacement.

The magnitude of Soulja being handpicked by one of Hollywood’s youngest to shoulder an entire film with his onscreen experience limited to televi- sion appearances on Entourage, The Game and a Justin Bieber Nickelodeon movie seems lost on the young rapper. He sees a major motion picture as nothing more than one “long-ass music video,” as if his stardom extending to Tinseltown is as preor- dained as his record deal was. “All I need to do is get one movie in the theaters [and] I would have broken into Hollywood,” he says. “Just like when I was a kid, [I said] all I got to do is get one video on TV and it’s a wrap. I got that one video on 106 & Park, and it was a wrap.”

Right now, Soulja appears to be on cloud nine. A sea of manicured model hands keeps him airborne for the cover shot. With a wide smile, he looks just like a 20-year-old enjoying his young life. Another perception flip.

Then it clicks: Soulja Boy is the future of hip- hop, the poster boy for all of the culture’s subjection— good or bad; pure vs. progressive; proactive as well as reactive. The boy genius is adapting to manhood and a predatorily empowering entertainment indus- try all at once. He is and has always been the quintes- sential product of his environment. So whether it’s a beat produced in 20 minutes, a catchy tune that sells a million ringtones or Internet videos decorated with ostentatious jewelry and sagging back pockets, we’re receiving what hip-hop has birthed in the last two decades: a Soulja’s education times a boy’s miseducation.

“I wanna be on Nickelodeon smiling next to Justin Bieber and on the Disney Channel smiling next to Hannah Montana,” he says, bathed in the studio’s reddish glow. “But I also wanna be in the ’hood with my nigga Gucci, too. So I guess my role is I don’t have no role. Soulja Boy do whatever the fuck he wanna do.” V

From the Web

More on Vibe

LA Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant poses for a shoot held in 1999 at the Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.
Michael Tighe/Donaldson Collection/Getty Images

Sound Check: Bobbito Plays The Tracks, Kobe Bryant States The Facts

"Hey, Jon B's in the house!" says Kobe Bryant, laughing, when I step into New York's Hit Factory.

"Money, you trying to snap?" I ask. "That's why you're wearing bell-bottoms." It's no surprise Kobe and I get along. We share passions—for hip-hop and basketball—and the same high school alma mater, Lower Merion, in Ardmore, Pa. Although I graduated twelve years before he did, I felt much pride when he made our school a household name in 1996, the year he jumped from his senior year in high school to the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers.

In '98, Kobe represented again as the youngest player in history to play in an NBA All-Star game. And while the current league lockout threatens to shut down the Lakers' dreams of a 1999 championship, Kobe's not sweating it. The six-foot-seven-inch guard's making moves as CEO and president of the one-year-old Kobe Family Entertainment. He's also picking up the mike as part of rap group signed to Trackmasters/Columbia. After our interview, he played me some milky-thick instrumentals, then later he rocked complex rhymes during his interview on New York's Hot 97 FM (WQHT). This cat Kobe is smart. And cool—mad cool.

Public Enemy—"Brothers Gonna Work It Out" (Def Jam, 1990)

B: Do you know this song?

K.B.: It's Public Enemy. Everybody knows them. Back in the day, me and my cousin used to do the Flavor Flav dance! My grandma would be like, "Kobe, what are you doing? You got an itch down there?" I'd be like, Grandma, it's the new dance.

B: I used to work at Def Jam—from '89 to '93—and Flav would come into the office and literally take it over. Nothing could be done, workwise, while he was there. One time, he got on top of my desk and was doing his dance. He was like that all the time. It wasn't an act for the stage or videos. That's just Flav.

De La Soul Featuring Pete Rock and InI––"Stay Away" (unreleased bootleg, 1998)

B: This record is beautiful. Do you like it?

K.B.: Hell yeah. It makes you want to listen and do nothing else. Not like some other songs—you hear them and want to punch the table. Even the lyrics have a melody. De La always bring it lyrically. You can always expect that they'll rhyme honestly about what they see.

B: I can listen to their first album, which is ten years old, and still not know what the fuck they're talking about. Regardless, their voices, delivery, flow, and intelligence make them one of my favorites of all time.

K.B.: When one of their songs comes on, you have to listen. But today, a lot of people don't have the patience for that.

B: Do you have a different name for yourself as an MC?

K.B.: Kobe, plain and simple.

B: What's the name of your group?

K.B..: Cheizaw. It stands for Canon Homo sapiens Eclectic Iconic Zaibatsu Abstract Words. Canon is the ruler of the spiritual body. Homo sapien is the [scientific] term for human beings. Eclectic means choosing the best of very diverse styles. Icon is a symbol.  Zaibatsu is a Japanese word for powerful family. Abstract makes concentration very difficult. Words, meaning lyrics. That's Cheizaw—that's how we're putting it down. Six members, all from Philly...Illadelph!

4 Hero—"Loveless" featuring Ursula Rucker (Talkin Loud/Mercury, 1998)

K.B.: I feel that joint to the most. I love the most. Who is that?

B: It's a drum n' bass group called 4 Hero, out of London. The poet, Ursula, is from Philly. She's on the Roots' first two albums, Do You Want More?!!!??! (DGC, 1995) and Illadelph Halflife (Geffen, 1996), and I hear she does a poem on their upcoming release too. She's ill—on some emotional poetry shit.

K.B.: Yeah, man. I love poetry. Don't you have a famous [poetry] spot out here [in New York]?

B: The Nuyorican Poets' Cafe. My man Ricky and I do shows there twice a month. Common, Wyclef, Saul Williams from the movie Slam, and Roy Hargrove have all come down and jammed.

K.B.: I've never been to a spot like that before, but I love poetry. I love writing it.

B: Have you ever checked out Gil-Scott Heron? I highly recommend him.

Nancy Wilson—"Call Me" (Pickwick/Capitol, 1966)

K.B.: Sounds like the melody from that TV show, from back in the day. The one with two girls in it...two roommates...

B: Three's Company?

K.B.: Nah, I think it was Laverne & Shirley...I don't know this record at all. I don't know what you want me to say.

B: Well, does it make you happy or sad? Does it make you want to take a sh*t?

K.B.: It makes me...[snaps his fingers and shimmies with his shoulders]. You know what I mean? Ha, ha!

Continue Reading
H.E.R. performs onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

H.E.R. Expertly Executes "Sometimes" Performance At 2020 Grammy Awards

Showcasing her musicality, H.E.R. began her soothing performance of "Sometimes" on the piano for the Grammy Awards Sunday evening (Jan. 26). After performing her lyrical exercise, the California native took her talents to the electric guitar which garnered a wave of applause from the audience for her command of the instrument.

In 2019, the “Slide” singer was nominated for five Grammy Awards. She won two: Best R&B Performance (“Best Part” with Daniel Caesar) and Best R&B Album for H.E.R.

This year, H.E.R. is nominated for Song of the Year for “Hard Place,” Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song for “Could’ve Been,” and Album of the Year (I Used To Know Her).

View her performance below.

Continue Reading
The late Nipsey Hussle and Kobe Bryant are projected onto a screen while YG, John Legend, Kirk Franklin, DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, and Roddy Ricch perform onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Nipsey Hussle Honored By DJ Khaled, John Legend And More At 2020 Grammys

Hours after Nipsey Hussle was posthumously awarded with his first Grammy, the awards ceremony honored him with a heartfelt performance by an all-star roster of John Legend, DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, Roddy Rich, Kirk Franklin and YG.

Meek Mill began the performance with an emotive, unreleased verse that served as a letter to Nipsey, with Roddy Ricch singing a chorus. [Update: The song, "Letter To Nipsey," was released to streaming services later that night.] That led into a rousing performance of "Higher," the song that appeared on DJ Khaled's album Father of Asahd.  John Legend played the piano and sang the chorus while backed by a choir, which was directed by an energetic, adlibbing Kirk Franklin, as a video of Nipsey rapping played on a big screen. YG joined the stage in a red suit, speaking to the gang unity between Crips and Bloods that Nipsey endorsed with his music and his life. The performance ended with an image of Los Angeles legends Nipsey Hussle and and the recently deceased Kobe Bryant, with Khaled paying tribute to them both.

Nipsey Hussle's debut studio album, Victory Lap (2018) came after an epic mixtape  earned him a nomination for Best Rap Album at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. He died on March 31, 2019, after being gunned down on in the parking lot of his Marathon Clothing store in Los Angeles. The music and business worlds reeled from his loss, with his rap career on the upswing and his work as a businessman and community leader inspiring many.

Before Sunday's (Jan. 26) ceremony, Nipsey Hussle was awarded a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance for "Racks In The Middle," the last single that he released in his lifetime. The song features a guest appearance by Roddy Ricch, and is produced by Hit-Boy.

Continue Reading

Top Stories