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Saturday, January 7, 2012

"Crank That (Soulja Boy)"

Soulja Boy - Crank That (Soulja Boy) (2007)

/When I do that Soulja Boy/I lean to the left and crank that thing/Now you/



Following in the tradition of The Hokie Pokie, The Twist, The Pony, The Time Warp, The Macarena, and many more, this is nothing more than an updated version of a pop dance song where the singer teaches the listeners a new dance, and then performs a song designed to show it off. In this case this song, the dance is named after the performer. It incorporates other dance moves including the oft repeated "Superman" but the dance itself is explicitly called out as the"Soulja Boy" at the 22 second mark in the official video.

The instrumentation is simple. There is limited drum set, some heavy electrically "reverbed" bass drum, and some fast high hat, not at the same time, and often neither of them can be heard. There is liberal use of the orchestra hit effect on a keyboard. The most dominant instrument is the steel drum. Also called a Steelpan or Carnival drum, this instrument evokes a Caribbean Island playfulness in the tune.

Around two minutes in, Soulja Boy references being seen as the Rubberband Man. This could be a reference to T.I.'s single Rubberband Man five years prior, but that song is about how much money he has and therefore how many rubber bands he carries around to wrap up his money. I think he is referencing The Spinners hit The Rubberband Man which is about dancing and having a good time.

Soulja Boy has never replicated the success of this song, and love it or hate it, you have to respect the hard work and dedication it took to come together. He wrote performed and produced the track on his own, and released it to YouTube. It was remixed dozens and then hundreds of times, and instead of trying to fight it, he incorporated that into how he interacted with his fans. When he was signed and the song went on to become a huge hit he became the youngest artist to write produce and perform a song that hit number 1 on the Billboard hot 100 chart.

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