What does Soulja Boy ‘Tell em’ about the State of the Union?
This one thousand-word illustration indicates that we are money driven citizenry of outrageous pomp, flair, and showboating. Although this Web 2.0 Blackberry generation remains connected via Internet and wireless technologies, our emotions and true feelings remain very well hidden by self-imposed barriers. Perhaps said strategy is the only means of survival.
DeAndre Ramone Way, aka Soulja Boy was born in Chicago, Illinois on July 28, 1990. The youngster migrated to Atlanta, Georgia at the age of seven – where he became instantly captivated with rap music. At fourteen years of age, Way was to then relocate to Mississippi with his father and practice music composition within the home-based recording studio purchased on his behalf by his parent.
Beginning in 2005, Soulja Boy implemented Web 2.0 strategies to attract support and earn popularity. The teenager posted his tracks upon SoundClick, YouTube, and MySpace. In March 2007, DeAndre Way recorded his infamous Crank Dat Soulja Boysingle to be released on his independent Unsigned and Still Major album. Hip-hop aficionados will recognize that the song is accompanied with an intricate group dance presented with the music video. The hit received extensive airplay by May 2007, foreshadowing a meeting with producer Mr. Collipark and a recording deal with Interscope.
Crank Dat emerged as the number one listing on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven non-consecutive weeks as of September 2007. The artist was eventually nominated at the 50th Grammy Awards for Best Rap Song with Crank Dat. However, the nomination did not garner the award, as Soulja Boy lost out to fellow rappers T. Pain and Kanye West’s Good Life.
Contrary to his unfathomable commercial success, Soulja Boy has been ridiculed as a talentless one-hit wonder. Hip-hop veterans such as Snoop Dogg, Method Man, and Ice T have berated the musician’s promotion of a product laced with elementary lyricism over relentless Southern style bass beats. Soulja Boy’s contemporaries have described his work as mindless drivel – better suited for ring tones than radio airplay. Rapper Ice T has blamed Soulja Boy for “killing hip-hop” with “garbage” music.
Even LeBron James has entered the fray. Amidst a heated playoff match and altercation with Washington Wizard, DeShawn Stevenson, LeBron mocked the adversary by intimating that any further retaliation on his part would be comparable to “Jay-Z responding to Soulja Boy.”
Let us further analyze what Soulja Boy “Tell Em” about the State of the Union:
1: The Emergence of the U.S. South at the Expense of The Rust Belt
The United States has transitioned into an economy that is dominated by service – at the expense of manufacturing. Rather than the capital assets of plant, property, and equipment that typically form the backbone of an industrialized nation, intangible goodwill, intellectual capital, paper assets, and credit undergird the U.S. economy.
Hence, access to shipping lanes, waterways, and natural resources is almost inconsequential. Service workers may telecommute from mobile phones and computing devices located anywhere – whereas industrial employees must remain bound to lodes of iron ore and natural transportation routes. Therefore, population statistics and migration patterns will be largely controlled by the weather patterns and natural aesthetics that are favorable to the comfort of mankind. U.S. Census figures, business matters, and popular culture trends prove our thesis.
Rust Belt States Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois feature a 2006 U.S. Census estimated combined population of 40,719,139, compared to a 2000 total of 39,791,362. The industrial Midwest region has been stagnant for six years – registering a scant 2.33% growth rate, largely attributable to births, rather than migrations. This 2.33% statistic compares unfavorably to the 6.4% average rate of population growth across the United States.
The area has been bleeding jobs – paralleling the decimated status of U.S. manufacturing. All Rust Belt States tally a loss of private non-farm employment rolls, while these jobs have grown by 2% in America over the 2000-2005 period. Michigan is the forerunner of this industrial debacle – currently leading the nation with a 9.3% unemployment rate, corresponding with a 7% loss of non-farm jobs.
Already bleak within standalone form, the figures are nothing short of disastrous in comparison to the Southeast. Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas boast a 2006 estimate of 40,631,583 – matching the numbers of the industrial Upper Midwest.
These Southeast states boast 12% population growth and scintillating economics over this six-year time frame. For example, Florida private non-farm payrolls skyrocketed by 14.3% from 2000-2005, according to the U.S. Census. The American South has emerged from a lagging section of the country – battered and slowed by the after affects of the Civil War and Jim Crow laws into a primary economic driver of our service economy.
Soulja Boy’s migration from Chicago to Atlanta is in-step with the reversal of the Great Migration. African Americans historically abandoned the South – descended upon the industrial North, particularly the South Side of Chicago in search of blue-collar labor employment. Currently, manufacturing belt cities from Chicago to Northern New Jersey have lost population to the South, as struggling U.S. industrial operations cannot compete with cheap, overseas labor. Our citizenry is re embracing Dixie, in the name of service employment, tranquil weather, and higher living standards.
DeAndre “Soulja Boy” Way’s musicianship style of catchy hooks, pounding bass, and mindless riffs – which work to magically inspire listeners to dance, rather than debate is a staple of Southern music.
Soulja Boy’s flair and outrageous fashion is also the mark of ‘New Money.’ Individuals unaccustomed to wealth are often privy to broadcast said economic success as a means to differentiate from the peer group, while announcing entree into a higher class. Mr. Way’s pomp parallels the U.S. South’s ‘New Money’ status from the depths of a Civil War, Anaconda-Blockade-Sherman March to the Sea-Jim Crow ravaged backwater.
2: The U.S. ‘Gimme’ Culture of Connectivity
Rapper Soulja Boy identified by his nonexistent vocal range and limited subject matter covering women and dance moves has ridden Web 2.0 technologies to stardom. His marketing efforts symbolize America’s obsessive credo of demanding instant results without remitting the proper costs.
The mindset has manifested in a credit bubble, promulgating obscene housing costs, an illusory dot-com bubble, commodity speculation, and a booming stock market built upon paper promises – rather than true production. The Diva Blackberry Generation of Impatience could not stomach the thought of humbly grinding through turmoil prior to the proper reward being bestowed upon us. We want it, and we want it now.
Cheap money forged a ramshackle psychology of utilizing leverage to mask one’s material failures, rather than as a last-ditch effort bridge of credit to mitigate catastrophe. Our citizenry has mortgaged the future for the present – feigning extravagance financed with borrowed money. Joe Six-Pack owes more on the mortgage than his home is actually worth, drives a Range Rover vehicle that is only familiar with paved highway, and carries a maxed-out Brooks Brothers charge card due to this comical sense of entitlement.
This excessive reliance upon credit to project a particular image within society is synonymous to a rotund, unattractive female hiding behind a computer monitor – duping Internet buddies with a fraudulent profile picture featuring a beautiful specimen of a woman.
Perhaps the glaring materialism of the 1980-2008 Golden Age is a consequence of the social awkwardness propagated by the computer. Connectivity has marginalized the importance of face time, tact, personality, and general people skills. Hence, visual material cues ability to communicate a particular level of status has become ever more pronounced. One’s command of language is nearly useless amidst an ‘lol-bff-jk-4-u’ galaxy. Gimme that.
Our ‘gimme’ culture standing upon a house of cards foundation of cheap money is imploding upon itself. The collapse of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Washington Mutual, Fannie Mae, and the Big Three automakers signal that the ‘something for nothing’ boom time era has gone bust.
Still, we may have yet to learn our lesson. Lawmakers continue legislating bailouts to Big Business and the consumer. These hologram-like promises have appeared on the table without sacrifice: no large tax increases, no drastic reduction in government services. The thoughtful American Public must be perplexed and baffled by the proposal of the U.S. Treasury – already grappling with the operating denizens of grotesque deficits, being able to finance Detroit, Wall Street, foreclosed homeowners, social security, Medicare, infrastructure, and education spending. Where is this money to come from?
3. ‘Me Too’ Sheep-like Elitism
The backlash venom directed towards Soulja Boy is almost galling. The eighteen-year-old rapper is mocked as a fifteen-minute, one-hit-wonder of elementary rhymes, choreography, and mind numbing literature promoting greed, violence, and the exploitation of women.
Is not this the society in which we have already built?
This youngster is unceremoniously ridiculed and dismissed as a clownish performer. Ironically, his commentary simply highlights the Western paradigm. Soulja Boy is no different than Big Three automaker executives descending upon Washington via $20,000 private jet flight to demand $25 billion in bailout money, Joe Plumber lobbying for a tax cut so that he may purchase some unattainable business, and consumers stumbling all over themselves – bingeing upon debt to keep pace with Mr. and Mrs. Jones.
We are all greedy in the aggregate. The sheep-like survival strategies of mankind produce a psychology privy to fall in line with slick advertisements and the prodding or our peers. We unwittingly conform to an ideal of what society wants us to be, at all costs.
Underground drug markets, stolen goods, smuggling, and the corresponding vigilante element of mayhem necessary to claim illicit territory haunts the disenfranchised and will remain a frightening staple of civilization throughout time. Irrespective of class, America embraces violence – characterized by our obsession with the National Football League, the most successful sporting organization by far. Science has constructed a class of gladiators, trampling over a pock marked gridiron – intent upon inflicting debilitating pain towards the opposition.
Violence is not limited to physicality. The international community remains spellbound – gawking at the boom and bust train wreck spectacle that is unfettered capitalism. Economists refer to the boom, bust, and cratering of enterprise as ‘creative destruction.’
Lastly, Hugh Hefner, 82 maintains a stable of women, which rival the ages of any granddaughter. Hefner’s girlfriends attach themselves to this man in exchange for achieving celebrity based upon the strength of their appearance, rather than any intellectual skill.
This is the American Way.
Do not Hate the Player. Hate the Game. DeAndre Ramone Way’s Soulja Boy is merely a caricature manifestation of an interconnected, violent society where a man is defined by his bank account and femininity is measured in terms of physical appearance.