On this day, Oct. 2, in hip-hop history...

ColliPark Music/Interscope Records
ColliPark Music/Interscope Records

2007: It's hard to say any one person invented viral rap, but if you had to, Soulja Boy would probably be a good choice. For evidence, take a quick listen to Souljaboytellem.com, a self-contained audio museum for the internet rap zeitgeist as the world knew it in 2007. Today, the LP turns 11.

Released just a few months after Steve Jobs unleashed the first iPhone and just a year-and-a-half after Twitter first hit the internet, Souljaboytellem.com came before doing it for the 'Gram was a thing. By that time, though, self-promotion definitely was, and as Soulja's website album title proved, rappers were becoming hip to the idea of using the web to its fullest effect.

Before dropping off his first major label LP, Soulja had posted his first songs to SoundClick.com and Myspace. It was around the winter of 2007 when he recorded "Crank That (Soulja Boy)," a song with instructions that created one of the very first viral crazes. With an infectious beat—one the DIY-trail blazer produced himself—and an entertaining video, "Crank That" soon became a worldwide sensation.

After a short while, "doing the Soulja Boy" became a sentence, and people were uploading videos of themselves doing the dance to their YouTube accounts and Myspace pages. Soon enough, everyone knew about Soulja. A few months later, in the spring of 2007, he signed a record deal with Collipark Music and Interscope.

Riding the momentum of "Crank That," Soulja dropped off his debut album. While his breakout song obviously defines the album, others also help define the era in which it was released. "Sidekick," which really feels like a stylish, but thinly veiled T-Mobile ad, recalls a time when having the Sidekick was a marker of being cool. "Bapes" takes you right back to 2007, a time when some of the most exclusive, must-have gear carried the Bape logo. If you wanted a snapshot of mid-2000s internet rap, this LP was a pretty vivid one.

In its first week of release, Souljaboytellem.com sold 117,000 copies, and it eventually moved 949,000 copies worldwide. Thought it wasn't critically acclaimed, folks from across the rap world recognize its influence.

As Soulja himself said on the album's intro, he'd gone "from the internet to the mainstream." These days, that's pretty much the only way to go.


See Photos of Soulja Boy's Different Looks Over the Years

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