Precocious teenager DeAndre Cortez Way, aka Soulja Boy Tell'em, is the latest American hip-hop sensation, his forthcoming UK single "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" having sat for seven weeks atop Billboard's Hot 100. Crank is in effect an offshoot of crunk, the sub-genre established by Lil' Jon, which in Soulja Boy's hands becomes an even more pared-down skeleton of snap beats, effects, "ooh"s and "aah"s and minimal synthesiser lines, overlaid with exhaustive repetition of title phrases such as "Snap and Roll", "Booty Meat" and "Let Me Get 'Em ".
"Crank That" is typical, with Soulja Boy's drawl pattering over a brisk beat of steel pans and synthetic hi-hats. It's infectious, but over the course of an album the repetitive approach is wearying, while the lack of significant lyrical content in tracks such as "Donk", "Bapes" and "Yahhh!" has caused old-school rappers to criticise snap-beat rap like this for killing hip-hop. But Soulja Boy's DIY style – the entire album was recorded solo on his laptop – may be a significant indicator of changes in the genre.
Download this: 'Crank That (Soulja Boy)', 'Snap and Roll', 'Donk'