The DeAndre Way” is a more innocent time in Soulja Boy’s life. You know that ten seconds after pressing play when the opener is called “First Day of School.”

DeAndre Cortez Way was only 20 when he released his album, so he wasn’t that far removed from trying to be “freshest in the class” and make sure that his “hat gon’ match my shoes, shirt gon’ match my belt.” These are the aspirations of a teenager trying to impress his peers and/or get girls interested in his swag. It’s a little strange when you consider he was already a rap star two albums ago when he was still in his teens, but he’s still rapping like he’s that kid. Maybe he just didn’t want to throw away any songs he had already written? Thankfully the third single from this CD sounded a little less like a boy trying to get a date for the prom.

Whether you’re a young man or a geriatric rap fan, the love of a booming system dates back to well before LL Cool J dropped a single about it. In fact when I was DeAndre’s age, that was pretty much my only goal in life. The bigger and louder I could make the speakers in my Oldsmobile, the more I enjoyed playing them at high volume in residential neighborhoods. I didn’t get no play from the ladies but at least the thump from the bass was crazy. That makes the lack of it in songs like “Pretty Boy Swag” all the more annoying. If Mr. SouljaBoyTellEm loves the “Speakers Going Hammer” he could have had G5 Kids make this song hit harder.

The rap style is just annoying too. Sounding like you’re out of breath every other word while trying to half whisper, half shout each word just makes for a completely unpleasant experience. He tries to redeem himself for mistakes like this with songs like “Mean Mug” featuring 50 Cent. Why not? If you grew up looking up to Curtis Jackson and were suddenly famous enough to get him on a record, you might as well call up Rico Beats for a track and pay for that studio time to live out your childhood dream. He could also learn some lessons from Jackson on how to sound like you mean it when you hand out threats. The song’s title says it all — rap hard and screw face all of your haters.

It’s possible DeAndre Way learned that lesson too well. He’d spend the next decade of his career beefing with his critics, other rappers, and billion dollar corporations. I have to respect the hustle though. Despite a very limited ability to write or perform interesting raps he managed to keep his name out there by any means necessary. He took 15 minutes of fame from one viral song and dance and managed to make it last. Maybe 50 million views for “Blowing Me Kisses” isn’t as good as half a billion for “Crank That,” but he’s still banking off it then and now.

The AutoTune modulation isn’t my favorite thing about the song, but I can at least admit it makes for an imitable hook when paired with Bei Maejor’s production. So here’s a quick summary of the things I can say about “The DeAndre Way” — he found an audience, he made sure to give them what they wanted, and he changed as little as possible in the process. If you’re still writing songs in your 20’s that you could have rapped in your teens, you’re doing it on purpose, so game recognizes game. There are only a few songs on this short 30 minute album that are worth revisiting though, and once every ten years is probably as often as you’d want to do it.

Soulja Boy :: The DeAndre Way
5Overall Score