3 February 2012 | StevePulaski
A digital coming of age story
The Soulja Boy phenomenon coincides with a period in my life I'd rather not talk about, but for the sake of this review I will try and go into detail and explain why it wasn't the brightest time in my life. Before I get into the actual documentary, I'd like to say there was a period of time in my life where I was the biggest rap fan on the planet. I absolutely loved it. I became obsessed with the genre, and a very cocky, narcissistic person. Traits in a person that I grew to despise.
It was 2007, Soulja Boy's infamous "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" was sweeping the airwaves and etching itself into one of the most popular dance songs of all time. That is when I jumped on board. I loved it. I loved Soulja Boy, his music, his dance, everything. I became so obsessed I started talking like him and trying to make myself into him.
Who or whom do I blame? Middle school. It's that awkward period of time where looks begin to matter, clothes matter, your social status becomes more visible, and people are scrambling to try and find out where they belong. When I hear or even think of the years 2007 or 2008 I cringe at how self-centered, arrogant, and immature I was. Around 2009 I calmed down, and by 2011, I was a whole new person. A person who was accepting, knowledgeable, and less self-centered and began to occupy a more modest sense. Faithful readers are more than aware of how I view myself today.
Soulja Boy was one of the first very mainstream artists I took a liking to. I found him to be incredible and unique. His music packs an energetic, infectious feeling you can't ignore. The simple beats, the addicting lyrics, and the fun, party vibe the songs bring just real you in so you can't help but dance or sing along. Soulja Boy: The Movie chronicles the rapper's life from humble beginnings to a full blown success story that seems almost too unreal to be real.
But it is. Soulja (born: DeAndre Way) assures us. He began making videos on Youtube at age fifteen after moving to his father's home in Mississippi. It was only a matter of time before his self made instrumentals and songs took off and he was signed to a major label. In 2007, Way signed a record deal with Mr. Collipark at Interscope Records and was on his way to fame. After the unprecedented success of his first single "Crank That (Soulja Boy)," his debut album off of a major record label, souljaboytellem.com, was released and later went Platinum.
What was next? More, more, more. More music, more dances, and inevitably more drama. Soulja became a dance icon. Youtube was flooded with videos of people "cranking that," and dancing to other famous anthems such as "Yahhh!," about when you want people to "get out yo face" and "Soulja Girl," about Soulja Boy looking for his significant other.
I won't go into every detail bit by bit, because the documentary is extensive and very intricate in details. It talks about the drama Way faced on his path to success such as when he was robbed by former band members and his feud with West Coast rapper Ice-T. The documentary quickly becomes a fun excursion if you can look past Way's extremely large ego. Whenever he gets the chance, he brags about money, luxuries, etc. I imagine this will wear off when he is older.
A former member of Soulja Boy's gang speaks out in one segment as well. His name is Tyrell "Q" Damato, and he was immediately released from the Stacks on Deck Money Gang (S.O.D.M.G.) label after stealing $45,000 from Soulja Boy. Damato states in the documentary that he still has yet to have a heart to heart conversation with the man himself, but he still respects him and what he does. He is, however, worried about the safety of Soulja since he has made a living off of the internet, showcasing his large sums of money and expensive luxuries. Q worries he is almost asking to be killed in this world where money is becoming harder and harder to obtain.
The documentary was directed by Peter Spirer, who also handled the Beef documentaries and some miscellaneous works of The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. His work on Soulja Boy: The Movie is efficient and easy to recommend for someone looking at a very detailed life story of the rapper himself. I'm usually hard on concert films, as well as documentaries because I feel if I'm brought into a subject I should be able to know everything about it and if one is made, it should have a clear, valid reason of existing. Not only does the film tell us a lot, it gives us more than a "rags to riches" story on the rapper himself, but it gives us something no one has ever seen before; a digital coming of age story. We watched Soulja go from humble beginnings in his Mississippi home to exploding on the mainstream scene boasting a new dance and a clothing line. Soulja Boy: The Movie wasn't like Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, a film made solely for profit and gimmick - it was made to show a story that was never previously told.
Starring: DeAndre "Soulja Boy" Way, Abrahim "Arab" Mustafa," and J-Bar. Directed by: Peter Spirer.