Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Soulja Boy! – Oct. 13

Posted by cliffordpaulparsoniiiesq on November 27, 2016

I had no idea that Soulja Boy’s timeless, world-conquering, 72x-Grammy-winning work of musical craftsmanship… I mean, the song “Crank Dat (Soulja Boy),” traces its origins to earlier roots. I wasn’t familiar with the “crank dat” phenomenon that apparently existed on Soundclick way earlier. I just assumed that our Lord and Savior Soulja Boy pioneering it single-handedly, what with him being Beethoven reincarnate and all.

My first exposure the Soulja Boy’s magnum opus was through fan-made music videos on YouTube that paired the song with clips of SpongeBob, Dora the Explorer, et al. That must have been 2007 or so, but I could be wrong. Not long afterwards, the new studio recording of the track became a favorite of my dance-centric art class at school.

By the time “Crank Dat (Soulja Boy)” reached its peak, it was apparent that no musical feat could ever top what Soulja Boy had clearly perfected. But yet, there were imitators. The most notable attempt I can think of was “Teach Me How to Dougie,” which similarly featured a dance, comparable in silliness but somehow dumber.

All joking aside, “Crank Dat (Soulja Boy)” was always a silly beast. However, I think it’s influenced the pop music landscape more than most people realize. In my lifetime, it was the first time I ever saw a star of a viral Internet music video actual sell albums and chart on Billboard. It’s one of those songs that I think we, as audiences, aren’t immediately sure what to make of. It’s the kind of thing we watch, laugh at, and enjoy, but don’t necessarily expect to see on the Top 40.

Today, there have been too many “Crank Dat”-esque success stories to count. Take, for instance, The Chainsmokers. Their first hit was literally a viral video about a human stereotype girl taking a selfie. Later, they reached number one with a collaboration with Halsey, an artist I first heard in the college indie sphere.

Soulja Boy has taught this generation never dismiss something as “not to be taken seriously.” The people we might consider YouTube fodder now could be playing at the Grammys next year.

God bless you, Soulja Boy. This generation needed you.


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