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 rhawkins55@gmail.com

  • http://www.theunderwriters.blogspot.com THE UNDERWRITER

    One thing about Soulja Boy: like it or not, he has the internets locked up for the time being. I see he already has the whole XXL office going nuts.

  • Jova

    Great post. Agreed with everything said. I hate Soulja Boy as an artist, but dude is doing his thing, gotta give’em that. XXL needs to add Sgt. Hawkins as one of thier bloggers!!!

  • Worley

    “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?”

    Yes. Get ‘em outta here. Even my favorite clown rapper – Biz Markie – had Kane writing for him. His sh*t was goofy but it was tight. Can’t really say the same about anyone on the list above even when someone else writes for them.

  • What the ?

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Exactly what I was thinking.

    “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?”

    Please fucking do ASAP, all those cats have no business to be on the mic. The hip-hop community as a whole needs to do a little population control.

  • http://www.xxlmag.com jackpot

    Dope post Sarge. But I must say, there are repercussions to getting at soulja boy. The consensus is that SB is now the king of youtube battles. Charles Hamilton and Ice-T are perceived to have taken an L to SB. So I guess the consequence for going at him is that you’re likely to take a L.

  • ri067953

    Yo, you guys are missing the point. Back in the day, having fun and all that in Hip-Hop was done with some class. I mean, most of the artists back in the day did not flaunt their ignorance. Once we allow that to happen, it becomes a slippery slope. However, we can’t blame SB because he is a product of the machine, he was probably listening to these half assed rapper growing up and is just imitating them and what he grew up listening to. SB is a personification of what is wrong with hip-hop and why artist need to make changes to the images they project.

  • $ykotic

    Sarge I can relate, but do not fully agree. Like homes above me, SB(I call him sux balls)is part of the problem. Many of us growing up in the culture knew that:

    1. If you’re wack, you get dealt with.
    2. If you bite, you get dealt with.

    Many new schoolers chased the dollar and never studied or perfected the craft. Now they figure a hook or a chain or holding a wad of cash certifies you in this industry. But hate HARD when they are not successful.

    I’m not even gonna touch on the age issue.

    When I was this dude’s age, if I didn’t know, I was still chastised. He SHOULD NOT GET A PASS REGARDLESS.

    WHERE ARE HIS PARENTS? NO MENTORS AROUND?

    Hell even NaS had Rakim as a mentor.

    Being dumb without knowing is one thing.

    Running your mouth without thinking is another.

  • $ykotic

    And also back then dudes spitting spoke on TOPICS. REAL LIFE ISSUES. THE BETTERMENT OF OUR RACE.

    The problem is the industry T.I.’s push this ignoramous music to the limit to reap THEIR rewards. They knew shorty was on limited time.

    Check out that Farrakhan vid on worldstarhiphop.

    SB got an offer he couldn’t refuse.

    Shorty spend that money wisely. Cause even Hammer had a cartoon.

  • louie mo

    on the real ………. i would like to see sgt hawkins comments on the recent soulja boy vidoe of him talkin down on nas and everything ……… so does he get a pass for that???????????? i mean being a kid and all….

  • Jamal7Mile

    iTellem will always get a pass (or some other type of excuse) from me for making wack music because a million other artists make wack shit right along with him.

    iTellum (he ain’t no soldier) run into trouble when he DON’T rap but, instead, sit at that yellow bus laptop and post yellow bus insanity against Hip-Hop icons like Ice-T and Nas.

    And he more dangerous than the average wack, um, artist because he got (had) the ear of millions of youths. That’s just too scary to think about. Millions of >GED ankle biters running around the House that Hip Hop icons (yeah, them old fuckers) built for him.

    Check the other iSellum post for my other comments cause I’m tired of typing.

  • amar

    aw man that intro on wu revolution disc two where rza spends 2 minutes talking about how hip hop is dead and garbage, right before triumph comes on is a sick sick moment…but i was listenig to that being said and how it relates to today and thought to myself “wait…this came out in 1997″.

    1997. The year when the suppose greats were just about in their prime. So stop blaming soulja boy for this notion that hip hop is dead. Blame a natural human tendancy to whine about the present and not deal with change.

  • Hate Hate and more Hate

    Fuck Soulja boy
    Fuck Sergeant Hawkins
    Fuck XXL for posting this stupid shit
    Fuck anybody that lets Soulja Boy get a pass And Fuck you just for GP

  • Curtis75Black

    Soulja is a safe target, in the sense that if that was Jay-Z, Rakim, Busta, AZ or even Ice Cube with their peoples speaking their mind talking about the state of Hip Hop and mentioning Nas as a “reason” for Hip Hop’s Love decline – it might get more thoughtout response from fans, Why ? because these are respected lyricists with History. I can’t stand the little homie but I’ll give him props for doing something our favorite emcee’s won’t do and that speak their mind. A roundtable discussion with “Yes Men” is his only fault, especially because the’re just as old as him with no real knowledge of Hip Hop.

    • Hate Hate and more Hate

      ^^^ AZ?? lol – Is that nigga even alive?

  • Kerda

    Honestly, I don’t understand why I’m always supposed to be so congratulatory to a rapper JUST because he’s making money.

    I mean, that’s great for him, but why does every argument in defense of a garage rapper begin “Stop hatin’, he’s making paper, you just a hater!!”. I mean, so be it, he’s making money, but does that mean I’m not allowed to critique the quality of his music? If anything is ruining hip-hop, it’s the culture’s tendency over the last decade to roll over and dick ride any and everything that sells a few records. Rap’s complete and utter lack of self-regulation is why ABC rhymes propped up by the same repetitive Jeezy-jacked “swagger” get lauded while artists actually trying to make, you know, art, get shit on for expending a few brain cells.

    And also, fun music is great, but why do we always correlate “fun” with “ignorant” or “unskilled”? Kanye West makes fun music (with the exception of 808s), but he’s also wildly talented. Ludacris makes incredibly fun music, but he’s also a monster MC. Fuck, Lil’ Wayne makes fun music, but he does it with skill and creativity.

    “Crank Dat” was a fun song, but just that: a fun SONG. A novelty. Just because that one cornball, ringtone-rap masterwork managed to come at exactly the right time, capturing the zeitgeist of a pre-recession America, doesn’t mean I have to take Soulja Boy seriously. Really, the fact that dude wasn’t shut down when he first started puffing out his chest is indicative of how soft and silly this music has become over the last 5 years.

  • Mr. Rogers

    Uncle Luke..thas all im saying…niggas aint hate on him

  • Curtis75Black

    In respect to Uncle Luke, he wasn’t a rapper !! We all knew it and He knew it !! He was more of a Hook man and Shit talker on tracks . That’s what we expected from him and that’s what he gave us. Whenever he was in a tussle, whether it be Kid N Play or Dr. Dre and Snoop, JT Money did the rappin’. He provided the funny ammunition with his voice. Plus Homie did Hip Hop a service for taking on the law, almost getting banned and fighting for Hip Hop’s free speech.

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