By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
I interviewed Soulja Boy recently, who I'll just go ahead and call by his real name, DeAndre Way, and it was pretty wild: The Atlanta-based, teen millionaire rapper wore his colossal, eponymous pendant—which he says contains a hundred G's of diamonds—and bragged about how all the big names in hip-hop have been kissing his ass lately.
No idea how much his chain is worth, but the latter claim actually holds up.
Though in the wake of his gimmicky 2007 YouTube smash "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" no serious rappers would be caught dead collaborating with him, his most recent album iSouljaBoyTellem is actually pretty good, and nowadays, people like Lil Wayne, Fabolous and Young Jeezy are jumping on his remixes.
Here are a few more wacky, quite possibly true tidbits from his life that he told me about.
He carries around a million in cash and stays strapped wherever he goes. After Way said that $1.1 million in actual cash money was used in his "Turn My Swag On" video, I asked how one procures that amount of dead presidents. The Wells Fargo counter? "That's how we roll, man," he says, adding that he had a million dollars with him at that very moment. I asked where, exactly, which is when he informed me that he also carries a gun, though he wouldn't show it to me.
He carries a piece ever since he was robbed at gunpoint last year at his own house. After his iSouljaBoyTellem record release party in Atlanta last December, assailants followed him home, broke into his house and robbed him and some of his friends. A YouTube video popped up shortly thereafter, in which a pair of masked men claimed responsibility for the break-in, but Way says it's a fake. He adds that he will tell the whole story on a song on his upcoming third album, The DeAndre Way.
The DeAndre Way is going to feature guests you would never have expected to be on a Soulja Boy album. Not all of the details have been worked out, but Way says he's been in talks with—and in many cases already completed tracks with—folks including 50 Cent, Diddy, Lil Wayne and Kanye West.
He has ten tons of tattoos. On his neck, Way has dollar signs and his birthday ("7-28-1990"), and on his chest he has his motto: "Hustle, Sleep, Get Money." (Love the sleep part.) He's got a lion's head on his chest too, and he has a music note, dice and playing cards on his right arm, because "life is a gamble," he explains. He's resolved this year to get as inked up as possible, and plans to get "1990" across the fingers on his left hand and dollar signs across his right hand. "It's gonna be clean," he promises.
Chris Brown was originally supposed to sing the hook for Way's hit, "Kiss Me Thru The Phone." Dodged a bullet on that one. Long before Brown had roughed up Rihanna, Way called him about performing on the track, but Brown turned him down. Way then tried his own hand at it, using Auto-Tune, but says it was "garbage." In the end he recruited his buddy Sammie for the task, who "just killed it," Way says. If Sammie killed it, God only knows what Brown would have done. Ay!