How Soulja Boy Went From Viral Sensation to Hip-Hop’s Biggest Troll

Soulja Boy never became a troll, he was one from the very moment he began to imprint himself on the national music scene, pulling the bait-and-switch on folks hoping to grab 50 Cent tracks off Limewire. So while his recent Breakfast Club interview may have been a reminder of his rabble-rousing ways to most of the mainstream public, it’s really just the latest and loudest moment in a career that has been characterized by trolling and a preternatural sense of knowing who to target and when to pounce.

Initially, Soulja Boy emerged as an icon at the dawn of the ringtone rap era. His eponymous hit “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” was certified three-times platinum and topped the ringtone sales chart. Short, recognizable, and hook-centric, his music was made perfectly to be diced into 10 second clips for the digital age. He helped to bring back the trend of tying hit rap songs in with easy to learn dances, something that persists even now.

The rapper’s proto-viral rise was a harbinger for the future of hip-hop, but it instantly put him at odds with the genre’s elders. That can lead some artists to try and prove themselves by showcasing their traditional MC skills (think Lil Yachty), but Soulja Boy resisted those temptations. This is someone who had a legitimate hit song where he and his friend literally shout gibberish at anyone who tries to speak to them – he’s not going to do anything to appease the “lyrical, miracle, spiritual” set.

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Linda J