Soulja Boy: The Safe Target
[Editor's Note: this blog was written before SB asserted that Nas killed hip-hop]
Back when New York radio woke up to the infamous Star & Bucwild morning show on Hot97 FM, I used to wait for the station's Programming Coordinator and the show's most opinionated co-host/Associate Producer, Sergeant Reginald Hawkins to say exactly what I was thinking on the topic of the day. His straight forward, military mindset on the issues of spirituality, politics, sports, music and whatever random ass subject Star would kick around, made for great radio in a time when the airwaves (and not the internet) ruled the instant news wire.
Today, Sergeant Hawkins (how he's normally addressed) is the current Format Manager for Sirius XM's Hip-Hip Nation and Talent Manager for Sirius XM Radio's Shade 45. Being an influential game changer in radio for over the last 10 years garners him a guest blog spot on a rapper of the moment that everyone is talking about, but no one is buying this go 'round…
Soulja Boy. Last night I was Twittering (yes, I Twitter folks) from DJ Green Lantern's Invasion Radio show (that Sarge produces) and the theme was the 2008 Awards from the Invasion team. Soulja Boy was nominated for the "Wack Internet Beef Award" (two entries, verses Ice-T and again for Charles Hamilton). Sarge had some thoughts on the kid that he wanted to share; I thought there's no better venue than Live From 1115, so take it away Sarge! - DT
Soulja Boy: The Safe Target
As we go into '09, a year of transition and a year of change, I was thinking of some of the real issues we could tackle in Hip-Hop as opposed to jumping on safe targets that won't fight back.
Safe target and Hip-Hop Public Enemy #1: Soulja Boy
Wow, you'd think the MC elder statesmen and scribes of this game would be much more kind to a teenage kid who just wanted to write child-like rhymes to his peers, but who flipped it and made a whole lot of money. You'd think people would applaud how this kid, at age 16, blew himself up and developed a fan base over the Internet from his bedroom. You'd think a guy like Ice-T, [who is] damn near 50 years old, would tell a kid like Soulja Boy, "Hey, that Superman shit was nice, but why don't you go watch the news and really write something that would help the kids in your global community." You'd think a guy with as much talent and arrogance as Charles Hamilton would call somebody at his own label and express his concerns directly to Soulja Boy. Hell, truthfully, what's so different about [Charles'] "Brooklyn Girl" and [SB's] "Kiss Me Through the Cellphone?" It's a sad day when an artist openly says another artist is the sole reason he can't break his and his friends records. You'd give Soulja Boy that much credit?
Yet, Soulja Boy is the "safe target." Who disses this whole new genre of Hip-Hop where R&B singers who sing the entire bridge of some of these "so-called" Hip-Hop songs? Is that still Hip Hop? Are songs like "Live Your Life," "One More Drink," "Camera Phone," and "Brookyn (Go Hard)" true Hip-Hop when the biggest R&B stars are singing verses right in the middle? Who's gonna diss those artists and who are those artists holding back [with those songs]?
Yet, Soulja Boy is the easy, soft target in the sense of not wanting a problem. You can easily pick on him knowing there will be no response or repercussion. You've seen his blogs, he's the typical silly kid, like you were in high school, when everything was funny. He's probably just getting his first taste, if you know what I mean! He has the right to be silly, the right to be a kid.
But, Hip-Hop has more problems than Soulja Boy that MCs are afraid to touch. East Coast Hip-Hop is still dead (thank God for that Biggie movie), the country is in a recession; internet gangsters are at an all-time high, black-on-black murder rates are up, HIV/AIDS rates are up amongst minorities, the FCC is tightening up on censorship, etc, but the greatest threat to Hip-Hop is Soulja Boy? WOW, I've seen people jumping out windows getting more love (pun intended).
Afrika Bambaataa proclaimed peace, love, unity, and HAVING FUN, were the principles our culture is based on. HAVING FUN, remember that one? What is this kid suppose to rap about if his world is video games, computers, and chasing girls? Fucking global warming? Did you kill Will Smith for "Parents Just Don't Understand," [or] Nelly's "Country Grammar" Hell, I saw Ice-T doing the Pee-Wee Dance in Joeski Love's "Pee-Wee's Dance" video (YouTube it folks). HAVING FUN. Hip-Hop has always had guys who aren't as lyrical as your top five MCs, however, should we ban guys like Diddy, Jim Jones, Ying Yang Twins, and others who make great party records, but don't flip metaphors and phrases like Jay-Z? Who steps up and disses them? (Crickets)
You see, it's the same elitism that allowed OutKast to get booed at The Source awards once upon a time, but now allows you to ride their dick today (pause, no homo). Not to say that Soulja Boy is in the same league as OutKast, but the South's got something to say. Yet, why tackle all the real threats to the culture when it's so easy to start a publicity campaign off a teenage boy from a two-parent family having fun with Hip-Hop from his Mama's house in his bedroom? Because…
he's a safe target!!!
Contact Sgt. Hawkins at firstname.lastname@example.org