“I really changed the whole music industry,” Soulja wrote. “That’s crazy.”
Crook responded, “If you know you know.”
Although some fans may scoff at Soulja being influential due to their opinion of his music, it’s his marketing savvy that’s truly undeniable. Over a decade after releasing his breakthrough single “Crank That (Soulja Boy),” the industry has largely followed his blueprint since streaming became the main source of music consumption.
Soulja was one of the first rappers to become a star through his use of social media. When he was just a teenager, he was generating millions of views on YouTube and Myspace. While the latter platform is seen as a relic, YouTube is now an essential part of the music industry in addition to artists cultivating followings on Twitter, Instagram and more.
Record labels chasing after budding stars on the internet can be traced back to Soulja too. The immense fan base he built on his own through YouTube and social media is what led to him signing a deal with Interscope Records. This essentially became a model for Hip Hop in subsequent years as labels still look to scoop up artists who gain significant traction online.
Soulja also proved that success in music didn’t require an elaborate studio setup. He created his music by simply using FL Studio software, earning a Top 5 debut on Billboard 200 with his souljaboytellem.com album.
He scored a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Crank That” in 2007 and earned a Grammy nomination for it in 2008. He wasn’t a one-hit-wonder either, reaching No. 4 on the Hot 100 with “Kiss Me Thru The Phone” and securing another Top 20 entry with “Turn My Swag On.”
The “Crank That” dance craze can even be seen as a sign of Soulja’s lasting influence. While snap music was left behind in the ringtone rap era, dances are still being used to create viral hits on platforms such as TikTok.
Regardless of one’s views of Soulja’s music, it’s impossible to discount the way the industry has followed his formula.