Soulja vs. the soldiers

Soulja vs. the soldiers

Chris Slattery

I’ve never liked Soulja Boy.

I know what you’re all thinking: “But Chris, when you enjoy the musical stylings of Wilco and the lyrical complexities of Bright Eyes, Soulja Boy looks like he would be right at home in your music collection.”

No doubt, but there’s something about his music that rubs me in all the wrong ways. Perhaps I don’t “Superman” enough.

Cut to late in the summer when Mr. Boy released a new song called “Let’s Be Real,” which begins with naming his social network URLs and repeating the N-word. It’s classy, to say the least.

But what people found especially offensive about the song was this lyric: “F— the FBI and f—k all the Army troops / Fighting for what? B—, be your own man.”

Apparently, some military personnel thought the song was inappropriate (although I can’t imagine why), and there was an uproar that such a song could be released, considering we just observed the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

It reminded me a bit of a column I wrote last year about the unfortunate free-speech rights of the Westboro Baptist church and how, living in America, we have freedoms that can unfortunately be bent to hurt others rather than liberate them. The same applies here.

In his five-minute-long song, this is the only instance of Soulja Boy disrespecting troops of any kind. Instead, the song seems more occupied with describing how many “tats” Soulja Boy has than telling off the troops for… whatever he’s mad at them for doing. Perhaps they weren’t “Superman”-ing enough, either.

Is a song that says “F— all the Army troops” any worse than songs like Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)”? With blindly-patriotic lyrics such as “We’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American way,” reactionary songs like this give off the wrong impression of how the U.S. defines “patriotism.” My third grade U.S. government teacher must have been incompetent, because I was unaware that, along with “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” came a steel-toe to the keister of foreign countries.

Soulja Boy has since apologized for the entire song (which is considered offensive for less than 2 percent of its lyrical content), and will not include “Let’s Be Real” on his upcoming album. And while I was not planning to listen to said album, I have even less incentive now. Rap is supposed to challenge and push buttons, and Soulja Boy took the easy way out, pushing to be more marketable rather than standing up for his own words, however he meant them.

Imagine if N.W.A. redacted “F— the Police” weeks after releasing it because of the controversy it created (what a cop-out!), or if Green Day pulled “American Idiot” from the shelves because some fans were offended by the message (somewhat validating their point). Artists make statements because it’s their right to do so, just as it’s our right to voice our displeasure in response.

Just to show how peeved I am by Soulja Boy’s “mea culpa,” I will parody his song in my column: “Yo, this is Chris Slattery and I got the most columns of all the columnists! Check out or friend me on Facebook! Columnist, please! in the house!”

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