Close Read: Soulja Boy's Army Diss

Did the ringtone rapper mean what he said?

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DeAndre Way seems to have inadvertently insulted his fellow souljas. The rapper known as Soulja Boy—better known for his viral internet presence, dances and sunglasses than his political stances (or rhymes)—has had a hard go of things lately. His upcoming album has been beset by delays, his decision to re-make the film Juice with himself in the 2Pac role has been roundly mocked, and any relevance his music might have had has been stolen by his protege Lil B.

But all that is mere appetizer to this main course. For someone who spends the requisite amount of rapping time *talking* about guns and drugs, Soulja backed down real quick when confronted by the biggest gang of armed guys around, the U.S. military. His recent song "Let's Be Real" contains the following, er, couplet:

Fuck the F.B.I. and fuck all the Army troops
Fighting for what, bitch? Be your own man

Naturally, this upset more than a few soldiers, ex-soldiers, and people just looking to score some easy political points, and DeAndre backed down almost immediately, issuing an unqualified apology and taking the song off his website. However, it is the part of his statement after the groveling apology that is the most interesting:

As a young man who grew up in the post-9/11 era, I have watched our country fight two wars that seem like they are never going to end.

I have seen thousands and thousands of our brave men and women get killed in battle and often times, I think for what? A lot of people in this country are struggling to make ends meet and I think a lot about what if we had never gone to war.

Where would our economy be? Our schools, our after-school and work programs, our streets? I mean, damn, 48 people got shot in New York City just this past weekend ... in 3 days ... I'm not saying that it is just because of a bad economy, but at a certain point we have to take care of our own people.

While this may not be the most well-reasoned anti-war statement out there, hopefully people will focus on this part of the message and not the (underwhelming) song or the (shockingly quick) way he backed down over what he must have known would be controversial lyrics. Why exactly we are at war, and what might happen if we weren't, is a deep question with answers that may well make the finger-shakers and Fox News hosts of the world far more uncomfortable than a random swear word directed at the Armed Forces or the Feds.

With all that said, here's the context—the first verse of the song, containing the lyrics in question. Through them, you can get an idea of Soulja's lyrical concerns, style, and milieu—a world that can have a young man supermanning a ho one second, and fighting the man the next.

The lyrics

But what's he saying?

Jumpin off the roof
Jumpin off the roof
God damn, where's my parachute?
Perhaps an unconscious recognition that this controversial song would toy with his career—hopefully Soulja Boy has some life savings built up!

Pretty boy goons
All we know is money and the loot
Here's a reference to his song "Pretty Boy Swag"; his goons are his friends. Soulja Boy thinking that "money" and "loot" are two different things is reminiscent of that time Jay-Z thought that money and cash weren't the same thing either.

40 on my troop
80 drop top I'm on the loose
The use of the phrase "Got [number] on my [noun]" is usually used to specify the number of thousands of dollars of jewelry you are wearing—or, in this case, the number of thousands of dollars you would bet on your friends in a fight, or the number of thousands of dollars you spent on a convertible car.

Fuck the F.B.I. and fuck all the army troops
Fighting for what bitch
Be your own man
These lines led retired Marine and current LA County Veteran's Advisory Commissioner Fred A. Flores to demand an apology from the "ungrateful" rapper, and Soulja Boy almost immediately complied. An excerpt:

When I expressed my frustration with the US Army, not only did my words come out wrong, I was wrong to even speak them. So, I write this to give my sincerest apology to all members of the United States military services, as well as their families that were offended by my most recent lyrics

I be flying through the clouds
With green like I'm Peter Pan
I be so damn high
Man, you don't understand
I just talked to God today
I said "Give me another chance!"
Soulja is stoned: flying "with green"—marijuana—a la Peter Pan, high enough to talk to God and ask him for a favor.

So I'm back in the hood
And I'm trying to flip the bands
I dunn put the devil's cup
Pour up the kickstand
As in T.I.'s "Rubberband Man," the (rubber) bands here metaphorically represent the struggle, and literally represent actual rubber bands that drug dealers would wear around their wrists in order to keep their illicit money together.

Now the hoes on my dick
Cause the tat's on my hand
"Hoes On My Dick" is a song by Lil B, Soulja Boy's protege. And Soulja Boy has two tats on his hands: On his right it says his middle name "Cortez" and on his left it says "Way."

My hand the grip and whip
Behind the 2012 van
We assume that SB bought a new van, though we're unsure how he could afford it given the payments on his new private plane . Oh, wait—he was lying about that

Mane I pull up in the truck
My goons duffed up
Got the bricks and the kush
In the loud pat whaat
Souljas goons keep bricks of cocaine and kush marijuana in a duffle bag—probably just in case there's a treasury default, they figure it'll be a useful "virtual currency"..

Mane, you know what's going down
When I pull up in the drop and
Everybody on me
Cause the album just dropped
Mane, the Juice mixtape
Got the hood on fire
Soulja Boy has been threatening since April 2011 that he is going to star in a remake of the movie Juice, playing the role of Bishop made famous by Tupac Shakur. He was inspired by the success of aJuice-themed mixtape he released:

I was in California watching the Juice movie and I called my barber to get the Bishop haircut. Then I TwitPiced the photo and everybody went, "Ahh, man, Soulja got the Juice cut." So I knew I had to make a mixtape. So I got in the studio and got with DJ Scream, recorded the mixtape. 450,000 downloads the first two days. After that I was like, I need to do this movie. If I do this movie and I play Bishop, I'ma tear it up, man. At the same time I'm promoting me doing music in a positive way but at the same time I'll be breaking into the acting field

I'mma keep hitting licks
Til my young ass retire
Soulja Boy NEVER stops rapping, which is why he has such a prolific array of middling songs.

I'm posted in the back of the coupe
I'm on fire
If a nigga think he got me
He's a god damn liar!
Talk to Bruce about it, son:

I'm posted on the wall
Like a god damn fly
I'm a young pretty goon
You can see it in my eye
A not-particularly-clever running together of two cliches—that of staying posted up and of being a fly on the wall.

I dunn hit 20 licks
I can't tell you why
I can't tell you where
Got goons in Delaware
Now your head's off your shoulder
Soulja keeps on rapping; he leaves it to his corporate goons in Delaware to make money off the flow. The choice of the state is not coincidental—many corporations are registered in Delaware because of its crazy no-corporate-tax-having ways

If you try to think I'm scared
Mane, I'm Soulja Boy Tell Em
Anyone who remember's his "Crank Dat" hey day in 2007 remembers that "Soulja Boy Tell Em" is his full rap name. And "mane," by the way, is Soulja's version of "man."

Bitch I told the infrared
Got the tats on my neck
Got the tats on my chest
He's not lying:

Got the super saiyan swag
Yes, my goons off of this
Mane you hoes talking down
But you really don't know
While the history of the term "swag" has been talked about quite a bit in rap lately, SB has recently taken to claiming that he popularized the term. The "Saiyan" here is a reference to the Saiyan, who are the "primary fictional humanoid extraterrestrial race in the Dragon Ball manga by Akira Toriyama."

Got a couple bills that'll
Get your ass knocked off the globe
Could he be talking about these bills?