“He's a genius, man. It's like catching Michael Jackson before he actually hit wax. It's that kind of talent.” Strong words, words more likely attributable to an overzealous blogger than one of the game's rising impresarios. But Mr. Collipark, known best for his irrepressible production behind the Ying Yang Twins, uses those very superlatives in describing Atlanta-based phenom Soulja Boy. Skeptical? Consider this: at an age normally reserved for acne remedies and orthodonture, Soulja Boy signed to the inimitable roster at Interscope Records. So how did this 16-year-old rapper/producer go from irritating teachers at South Panola High School in Batesville, Mississippi to inking deals in Jimmy Iovine's plush office? Let's fill in some gaps.
Soulja Boy, born DeAndre Way in Chicago, moved to Atlanta at age 6. A-town, today the boiling cauldron of musical creativity, had begun to seriously bubble by the mid-90s. Artists like OutKast, Usher, Jermaine Dupri, and Goodie Mob were rising from local heavyweights into national sensations, shoving the South inexorably into prominence.
A young Soulja, taking cues from his surroundings, mustered his fledgling foray into music alongside then-partner, Young Kwon: “ He was the one who taught me how to make beats and record; he recorded the first songs I ever did,” Soulja reveals. “He taught me what he knew about snap beats in the studio in his house.” His appetite whetted, Soulja began to hone his production chops. But while his t