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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

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Rey Ma Facing Additional Charges In Alleged Assault Against Brittney Taylor

Rey Ma has been hit with additional charges in an ongoing assault case in which she stands accused of attacking former Love & Hip Hop: New York cast member Brittney Taylor. The Bronx native appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court Friday (May 24) where she was arraigned on four misdemeanor charges, according to TMZ.

Although Remy was initially charged with assault, and turned herself in to authorities earlier in the month, she now faces two counts of third-degree assault, one count of second-degree aggravated harassment, and one count of second-degree harassment. She was offered the option to plead guilty to the top charge and enter anger management in exchange for having the other charges dropped but reportedly rejected the deal.

A trial date has been set of July 12.

Taylor claims Remy punched her in the eyed during a run-in at the Pretty Lou Charity Concert at New York City’s Irving Plaza last month. Remy was among the event performers along with Fat Joe, Jim Jones and more. She denies attacking Taylor and claims to have video evidence proving her innocence. TMZ reports that prosecutors have since changed the time of when the supposed altercation took place to line up with the time that Remy would have been at the venue.

Upon leaving the courtroom Friday, Remy didn’t mince words when speaking about going to trial. “Who looks forward to going to trial? I have things to do in my life,” she said according to the New York Daily News. “I have a real job, I have a family, I have a husband, I have a daughter.”

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34 black female cadets from West Point's Class of 2019 pose at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York.
Cadet Hallie H. Pound/U.S. Army via AP

Black Women Cadets Make History At West Point Graduation

A record number of black female cadets are set to graduate from West Point (The United States Military Academy). After completing four years of education and "testing their limits," 34 black women will be walking across the stage at the 2019 commencement ceremony for the first time in the school's 217-year history.

Earlier this month, the black female cadets came together for a pre-graduation group photo. Little did they know, the photos of them in traditional Old Corps uniforms with ceremonial sabers would make their rounds on social media.

“My hope when young Black girls see these photos is that they understand that regardless of what life presents you, you have the ability an fortitude to be a force to be reckoned with,” shared one of the cadets, Tiffany Welch-Baker, in an interview with Because Of Them We Can.

Although West Point admitted its first black cadet until 1870, the academy didn’t graduate its first black cadet until the Reconstruction in 1877. In 1979, Vincent K. Brooks was made the first black captain of the Corps of Cadets. In 2017, Simone Askew became the first Black woman to lead the Corps of Cadets.

Senior cadet Stephanie Riley told The Associated Press in another interview: “I just showed myself and those who thought I couldn’t do it initially that yes, I can. And not just, ‘Yes, I can.’ I can show other little girls that yes, you can come to West Point. Yes, you can do something that maybe the rest of your peers aren’t actually doing. And yes, you can be different from the rest of the group.”

The class of 2019 includes a total of 223 women, another milestone since the first female cadets' graduation in 1980. The total number of graduation African-Americans doubled to 110, while the number of graduating Latinos became the largest, 88, in the academy's history. West Point also appointed Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams as its first black superintendent in July 2018.

Not only will West Point be graduating its 5,000th female cadet, but it will also have its highest number of female Hispanic graduates, 19. The commencement ceremony is set for Saturday, May 25, with Vice President Mike Pence delivering the commencement speech.

Congratulations to the black ladies of West Point's graduating Class of 2019!

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Art At Work: Kadir Nelson And Hennessy Unveil Marshall "Major" Taylor Sculpture at NYC's WTC3

Last spring, VIBE was invited to the screening of a Hennessy sponsored screening of a mini-commercial documentary on one of the most unsung athletic hero's of African-American history in Marshall "Major" Taylor. The seven-minute doc, explained the life and legacy of the first international African-American superstar. In the late 1800's Taylor dominated the cycling scene with power and endurance. With the viewing happening at the New York Times building, a special treat was waiting to be shown to the excited crowd. World renowned visual artist, Kadir Nelson made a monument for Taylor, the man that broke barriers with his pedals and passion.

Fast forward to May 15, 2018, Nelson was celebrated for that same Hennessy commissioned statue (which went along with Hennessy's Wild Rabbit campaign, narrated by Nas) of Taylor and it being permanently placed in New York's World Trade Center 3 (WTC3). Known as one of the world's busiest travel areas, the World Trade Center is a landmark destination for millions of visitors who will now see the immortalized cyclist's frame, sculpted  by Nelson. “The Major” will be displayed starting later this year near the north entrance of 3 World Trade Center, with the Oculus and National 9/11 Museum in the background. The sculpture will live in WTC as part of the Silverstein family’s World Trade arts initiative, entitled The Silver Project. The piece is the towers first installment of art and will shine as a beacon for all creatives and those seeking inspiration in all walks of life. Nelson will also have his first studio space in the same building.


To witness the amazing life of Marshall "Major" Taylor, watch the doc above.


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