Seven years ago, a just-turned-17-year-old Atlanta unknown called Soulja Boy Tell 'Em became the first rapper to blow up via the internet ever. "To me, Soulja Boy reset the industry," said Mr. Collipark, the producer who discovered Soulja, in a interview. "He introduced going over the heads of the powers that be, to be heard. So these kids didn't need radio stations, or the DJs, or the clubs—they used the internet to go straight to each other." Soulja also became a watchword for bone-brittle old heads to bemoan the death of rap—on the subject of Ice-T, who'd taken the time to dis him in interviews, Soulja hilariously responded that the Iceberg had been "born before the internet was created," which was irrefutable.

"Crank Dat" hit the same year that the Pack's "Vans" did—and that group's standout, Lil B, would soon follow in Soulja's BAPE-steps to internet stardom as the Based God. I've often said that B has to be the most influential rapper this side of Kanye West for the last half-decade or so of rap—and it's Soulja Boy who paved that way. Keep in mind that he's also brought us RiFF RAFF and a terrible but telling (tell 'em?) song called "Macklemore" (as in, "I'm getting money like..."). Soulja hits the Crocodile Friday, August 8, with Donte Peace, Spac3man, and DJ Swervewon.

Consider the impact the internet has had on the industry, and consider the throttling of the internet that could and would happen if Comcast and Time Warner were allowed to merge...

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