In the past five years, there has been an renewing formula practiced in Hip Hop, by that, out with the old, in with younger than ever. Teenage rap-stars have replaced the 50 year old record execs sitting behind their corporate desk exercising endless red-tape ethics and green-lighting the stereotypical urban records. Perhaps the face of this new age, DeAndre Ramone Way, better known as Soulja Boy [click to read], is back with his second major label album iSouljaBoyTellEm.
The sophomore effort from the voice of Generation Y’s youngest in charge is filled with club-aimed anthems led by the lead single “Bird Walk” which, much like his rookie year songs, are radio-friendly crowd pleasers, low on lyrics and high on energy. There has been much to be said about Soulja Boy‘s career within the year’s time-span that he has been album-free.
His debut album, SoulaBoyTellEm.com, was an instant success with “Crank That” becoming an global phenomenon and skyrocketing up the Billboard charts. It not only solidified Soulja Boy as a hit-maker, but a self-marketing businessman. There is a much needed expansion on his newest album’s credits list this go-round with production from outside producers like Drumma Boy [click to read], who produced the explosive intro “I’m Bout Tha Stax” and Polow da Don, the mind behind the Sean Kingston [click to read]-vocaled track “Yamaha Mamma.” The Caribbean-tinged effort revisits some of the calypso flavor found in SB‘s own drum kit. This in addition to the Sammie-assisted lovers quarrel “Kiss Me Thru The Phone,” a song pandering to the adolescent female fan-base that’s propelled SB to stardom, and gunpowder to the skeptics that have assailed the merits of Way‘s work.
Soulja shows his sensitive side a bit, but magnetically sticks to his club-banging roots with tracks like “Go Head and Whoop Rico,” where a chanting chorus offers little more than evidence of Soulja‘s swag. He even attempts to pull in the trapstar record listeners by recruiting Gucci Mane [click to read] and Shawty Lo for the self-produced companion to T.I.‘s “Swing Ya Rag,” “Gucci Bandanna.” The record is questionable for the simple fact that: Even if two of A-town’s biggest names are on the record, are teens, well out of the means to buy Gucci, truly able to sing along? The guest production definitely helped Soulja establish an incredible instrumental foundation, but still did not put him over the lyrical edge.
If nothing else, iSouljaBoy is a teenager’s escape from the recession, if they’re feeling any direct effect. Like most of the summer’s smash hit movies (including Hancock, which name-checked Soulja Boy) consumers are going to spend their dollars on for arguably mindless escapism. Unfortunately, as the old saying goes, “too much of the same thing can sometimes be a bad thing.” Even with rampant beats and creative hooks, the effortless blueprint is all too reminiscent of what got Soulja Boy into the game. Failure to expand and showcase diversity within his lyricism has brought down hopes for longevity in the rap world for the young star. Granted, while our country is in turmoil we need inspiration and excitement but when the economy does get picked up, it’s debatable whether happy-go-lucky dance rap follow suit.