Knowing how people don't read or quickly form judgments, I want to state this editorial isn't mean to be funny or a disrespectful commentary.
I'll never forget how I came into "meeting" Soulja Boy.
It was through a parody from a guy named Army Boy, who had created a hilarious re-make of "Crank Dat Soulja Boy" before I even heard the original. Like it or not, he's taken the world by storm. Even though Soulja Boy has continuously caught tremendous flack for his brand of Hip-Hop, AllHipHop supported his efforts. During AllHipHop Week, he performed at our Fashion Show, which was hosted by LL Cool J. He fit in perfectly with the evening, one that was fun and festive. Recently, it hasn't been his music that has been a point of contention.
From what I've seen, Soulja Boy isn't such a happy guy. At any given moment, he's expressing his emotions and frustrations through his digital assets like twitter, his blogs and his video outlets. (Read the latest, by clicking here.) The most recent complaint has been one against the media, who he claims has it out for him. When this lament was issued (and later removed), he expressed that the media was critical of him due to his more flamboyant activities, namely an iced-out, remote-controlled Lamborghini chain. Soulja Boy himself publicized his activities though the youtube and sparked off the aforementioned "point of contention" in fans. I googled this and never saw any real disses from traditional online media.
Oddly, in his rant he mentioned his charitable contributions to the community. Well, that was news to me. I mean, AllHipHop has always covered rappers that give back and I don't recall his work. So, if he has been doing the great things, he needs to scream on his PR team.
Anyway, after the rant and an apparent desire to do better, I decided that Soulja Boy needs a mentor. And if he has one, its highly likely that he needs a better one.
So, I'm volunteering for the job.
Why? There are several reasons. In general, Black boys grow up without any sort of older figure to help them navigate through the trials of life. Even when there is a father present, that's not necessarily the same as a mentor. Whenever I read one of Soulja Boy's online declarations, I feel like I am hearing somebody crying for guidance - or pain. I could be wrong, but he's gone off quite a few times on Twitter and it is sounds painful. I know Soulja Boy even though I don't know Soulja Boy. I've mentored, taught or worked with a number of "soulja boys" and they needs constant talking to and you need to check in often to prevent them from veering off course. Anybody that has been through anything knows in an instant your life can change.
That's not to say I want to see him suddenly morph into some super-lyrical, socially conscious revolutionary, non-mistake making adult because that's not Soulja Boy. It just seems like he needs somebody older than Arab to stop him from a looming meltdown. He's got money, but in my tenure, I've seen plenty rappers go from rags to riches and back to rags. Furthermore, none of that truly leads to happiness if there are unresolved issues from back in the day. Even more, I never was fortunate to have a mentor coming into this business. Sadly, AllHipHop has seen a bunch of wanna-be mentors-turned leeches since our inception. I can only imagine how much blood Soulja Boy has already lost.
Perception is often all there is and right now, SB looks like a young man doing his thing in the entertainment game. However, when a journalist friend called Soulja Boy "Black Boy Lost" after reading his write up, I knew the perception (and subsequent reality) was changing. Furthermore, I feel mentoring SB is going to have a tremendous ripple affect. Kids don't look to Public Enemy, LL Cool J and KRS-One for their social cues anymore. That's gone, I'm sorry. They look at people such as Soulja Boy, Lil Wayne, Drake, Young Jeezy and other artists. I mean, there aren't even many community leaders that seem attractive to young people these days , but that's another write-up.
Mentoring Soulja Boy could mean mentoring a generation of young people influenced and impressed by the tremendous moves he's already made in his short, controversial career. On top of that, a mentorship could help DeAndre Cortez Way cope with the ever-growing, crushing pressures of fame, fortune and success. It could also help him cope with the past.
I don't know Soulja Boy, but I know he's a different person than 2006, when he Performed "Crank Dat" at our event with the whole crowd doing his dance. I didn't dance and that's kinda what he needs right now - somebody that's not so quick to dance. Somebody, that's interested in a talk here and there, a chin check every now and then and can warn about the sharp bends in the road ahead.
That mentor doesn't have to be me, but I hope for his sake and the other "soulja boys" in America, that they find somebody fast. We all need a mentor at some point. Shoot, I'm still looking for mine.