By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Wednesday, August 27th, American rapper Soulja Boy Tell Em, also known simply as Soulja Boy, will perform live at Lagoa’s Praia Club, marking his first ever performance in the city. Best known for his 2007 Grammy-nominated hit “Crank That (Soulja Boy),” Soulja Boy is also a producer, entrepreneur and actor, who harnessed the powers of the internet and social networking to become one of the most financially successful rappers in the industry.
Soulja Boy arrives in Rio during his ongoing “We Made It Tour” in support of his latest album entitled King Soulja 3. Released less than a month ago, on July 29th, Soulja Boy described the fifteen-track album to Forbes during a recent interview saying; “it goes hard — its very hip hop. There are records I go crazy on.”
Born DeAndre Cortez Way in Chicago, Illinois in 1990, at age six, Soulja Boy moved with his family to Atlanta, Georgia, a major center for southern hip-hop music and the home of the trap genre. At age fourteen Way moved again to Mississippi and it was there that he began recording his music in a home studio provided by his father.
A self-published track from his album Unsigned & Still Major: Da Album Before da Album, the single gained popularity from Soulja’s heavy social media presence on sites including Myspace and YouTube. It was through its success that Way managed to sign a major label record deal with Interscope Records.
“I definitely think I opened doors and when I look on YouTube and the Internet. I see new artists coming up and using that blueprint — using social media, video blogs and the dances, all that,” Soulja Boy told the The Seattle Times recently, adding; “People were against that at first. Now it’s the regular, it’s a common thing. Now all the artists all gravitate to that. I think it’s dope, and it’s cool to be able to say I did that.”
The single would go on to be used in an episode of the popular HBO series Entourage, as well as, to be nominated for Grammy Award for Best Rap Song. In the years that followed, Way went on to release with three albums; Souljaboytellem.com, iSouljaBoyTellem and The DeAndre Way. Two singles from iSouljaBoyTellem; “Kiss Me thru the Phone” and “Turn My Swag On,” also proved to be hits for Soulja. Though not as successful as “Crank That (Soulja Boy)”, both songs had over one million digital downloads.
During recent years, Soulja also turned his interests toward acting, making several cameo appearances in both films and television sitcoms and reality shows. He will also be among the new cast of ‘Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood’, a continuation of US channel VH1’s ‘Love & Hip Hop’ reality series.
Among his other endeavors, in 2004 Way founded his own record label, Stacks on Deck Entertainment. Additionally, he is a music producer, working with artists that include Bow Wow, Lil Wayne, and Nicki Minaj. A true entrepreneur, Way also has he hands in the fashion industry. He created two clothing lines; “S.O.D clothing” and “BLVD,” and a line of shoewear, “Yums.” With earnings of over US$7 million in 2010, Forbes listed Soulja Boy as the eighteenth highest “Hip Hop Cash King” of that year.
Opening for Soulja Boy on Wednesday, will be São Paulo native MC Guimê. Born Guilherme Aparecido Dantas, MC Guimê is known as one of the biggest names in funk ostentação (funk ostentation), a style of funk that originated in São Paulo around 2008.
The must see event, for fans of rap and funk, is scheduled to kick off at 11PM at the Praia Club and DJs Tucho, Wally and Lucas Lins will also be on hand to spin the best of hip hop, rap and trap during the night.