The Context – Music styles and songs can define eras like disco was to the 70s as PSY’s “Gangnam Style” was to the 2010s. In the case of the mid-to-late 2000s, Soulja Boy Tell ’Em very well could be “that” era-defining artist—at least to the pivotal youthful demographic. A middle school dance, college party, or wedding from 2007 onward would be remiss without the instantly recognizable steel-drum beat followed by the exclamation of “you” before Soulja Boy had everyone “crank[ing] that” and “superman[ing]” on the dance floor. In addition to the viral, #1 charting theme song “Crank That (Soulja Boy),” the Myspace mainstay rapper produced fan-favorite hits like “Kiss Me Thru the Phone (feat. Sammie),” “Pretty Boy Swag,” “Turn My Swag On,” and “Donk” in the late aughts.
Despite not receiving critical acclaim, the Chicago-born, Atlanta and Mississippi raised rapper has continued to pump out music well beyond his mid-2000s height of fame. Soulja Boy’s robust discography includes a whopping five studio albums, 14 EPs, and 63 mixtapes. Prior to the February 2021 release of Soulja World, the artist formerly known as DeAndre Way dropped the mixtapes King Soulja 9 in July and Swag 3 in November 2020—two instances where Soulja has acclimated to the en vouge trap-rap sound.
The Content – Soulja Boy commences his latest mixtape with a minimalist production and uninspired verse on “30 Missed Calls.” “Bankroll” livens the beat marginally with a bass-heavy backdrop paired with an ad-lib friendly track. Soulja Boy elects to fast rap on the quick-hitting “Imposters.” The repetitive “Section” could be the biggest disappointment on the record as the trap-laden production seems to offer a potential banger, but Soulja’s poor rapping undermines the track. The Based God, Lil B, joins Soulja on the longest and most refined track on Soulja World, “Bay To the a.” Alas, “Bay” falters as Lil B is unremarkable and Soulja’s spits are completely off-beat.
“Whip Like This” and “Laugh At the Opps” suffer from the same pacing issue as the subdued beats don’t lend themselves well to the quick-paced verses from Way. Soulja improves slightly on the repetitive “ZaZa” and the upbeat “Nobody Looking,” yet the rapper faceplants yet again on the excessively shoddy “Got It Out the Ground” and the minimal “Rap Bout.” “Get Money” has a decent beat without solid verses to compliment. The “Real Talk” flex of Soulja’s wealth precedes the ultimate, unimaginative whispered “Pandemic” that concludes the mixtape.
The Skinny – Roughshod is the word that comes to mind after listening to the latest Soulja Boy Tell ’Em mixtape Soulja World. The tracks are almost all completely void of hooks, substantive verses, and engaging trap production. Soulja Boy’s frequent “aye” callouts, a la Ski Mask the Slump God, fail to coverup his pedestrian lyrical and rhythmic abilities. Soulja World is definitively sapped of Soulja Boy’s youthful charm from the mid-to-late 2000s. In spite of the equally unpolished and prosaic record, props must be given to Soulja Boy for continuing to create music and not just basking in his former glory.
The Rating – 3.5/10
- 30 Missed Calls
- Bay To the a (feat. Lil B)
- Whip Like This
- Laugh At the Opps
- Nobody Looking
- Got It Out the Ground
- Rap Bout
- Get Money
- Real Talk