[Disclaimer: This is not, I repeat, THIS IS NOT a "I Hate Soulja Boy" post. I don't think he is "killing Hip Hop." Maybe a couple brain cells, but not Hip Hop.]
This had been on my mind for months, but I was weary about posting it. Mainly because I didn’t really feel like throwing in my two cents with the millions of penny thoughts that bloggers and commenters had already left on Soulja Boy. But here goes…
A couple of months ago I had the privilege of being in the studio with one of our more intelligent rappers and someone who many consider to be a legendary producer (no name dropping here). There were a couple other guys in the room and the intellegent rapper got in an music arguement with one of the other guys. The guy said he felt that people were being too harsh on 17-year old Soulja Boy and his skills (or lack thereof), that he deserves all the shine he is getting because he put in work on the internet and sparked a movement by himself. He felt that he shouldn’t be criticized for the kind of music he makes because he is “just a kid.”
The intelligent rapper agreed that Soulja Boy deserved the shine, but felt that what he had was “not a movement, its a moment.” He also stressed that Soulja Boy should not be given a pass because of his youth.
Seeing my man Gooch’s post on Soulja Boy’s production prowess and future and the comments that followed rekindled the thoughts that I had after watching that arguement between the intelligent rapper and guy in the studio.
Really, why do people enable Soulja Boy’s music because of his age? Granted, when I was 17, I wasn’t discussing world religion, politics or “deep shit” as they say. I wasn’t listening to too much “message music” either. Much like Soulja Boy, I was dancing and shit too. In Decatur and pretty much the entire Atlanta area we used to bounce, tick and ragtop all the got damn time. In the club, skating rink, at the park, hell some of us would crank that shit up in the middle of the school hallway sometimes. But of course…it was different back then. Mainly because we could balance the shit out with other music.
Plus, even though we might have been teenagers, people still held us to a certain standard. Like, if we did something we weren’t supposed to or acted like a buffoon, we didn’t get enabled with “oh, he just a kid, he only 17.” Last time I checked, 17-years old ain’t exactly childhood. By that time you’ve had your license for a year and you are one year away from deciding if you want to go to school or go to war.
How does this relate to the Soulja Boy cat, simple. I keep hearing people say “aw, leave that little nigga alone, he is for the kids.” What kids? When I was 17, we didn’t have that kind of music really. The closest thing to it (in theory, not quality) might have been some shit we danced (with girls) to like A-Town Players, Kizzy Rock, Kilo and even Soulja Boy’s producer Mr. Collipark formerly known as DJ Smurf. But still, as much as we danced to it, they (especially ATP and Kilo) were still rapping.
When I was coming up, “kiddie rap” consisted of Kris Kross. But hell, by the time they turned 17 they were on some other shit. As for Illegal and Da Youngstas, there wasn’t much young about their music. Shied, they were going hard before they even hit 17. Hell, even though T.I. was writing most of his lyrics at the time, even Bow Wow wasn’t sounding ignorant when got to be 16-17 years old.
Then I start thinking about Mobb Deep. They were “only 19” when they blew up, but they were 17 when they first came out. I’m not saying I’m co-signing Mobb’s ultra-violent visuals over Soulja Boy’s “innocent” skeetings and shootings. But I am co-signing on their ability to put words and paragraphs together in a clever and compelling manner, all while in their teens.
And oh, how could I forget Mac Mall dropping what many consider to be the dopest CD by an under-18 rapper ever, Illegal Business?.
So, after mentioning all of those teenaged acts, I find it difficult as to why people simply say “aw, Soulja Boy only 17, he for the kids.” If he is “for the kids,” man, that’s some scary shit. You know, every time a debate about rap lyrics come up, defensive rappers love to use the “Hip Hop is a reflection of society” argument. If Soulja Boy is for the kids, what does that reflect? When I hear songs like “Yaaaaah” and “Report Card,” they don’t make me mad, they actually worry me. If that shit is the reflection of what’s going on with 17-year olds, maaaaaaan, we’re in trouble.
Don’t get me wrong, I volunteer and talk to kids pretty often, and not all of them are bad and dumb. Alot of them are just confused as hell. I probably would be too if I was young and growing up in the Information Overload Age. The notion that younger kids “don’t know real Hip Hop” is true to a degree. From talking to them, I don’t think alot of them are really into Hip Hop all that much to begin with. They are more so into information, and Hip Hop and rap music (along with random smut, violence and useless data) just so happens to take up a hefty chunk of the information being disseminated.
Like I said before, this is not a Soulja Boy bashing. I’m usually too busy to pay stuff like this attention, thus, like so many others, I simply brushed it off as “kiddie music.” But after getting bombarded with his nearly unavoidable music and hearing buddy joyfully rapping about getting F’s and settling for some D’s, it kinda concerned me ya’know? Yeah, its meant to be funny, but I can’t help but to think its having more than just a comedic effect.
When did being young start equating to being dumb? Immature, yeah. Naive, ok. But dumb? Damn, when did that happen? Is the education system in this country that screwed up?
When Jay said “30 is the new 20″ did that mean that 10 years got taken off for everybody? Is 17 the new 7?