Soulja Boy seems content to perform with general indifference, as long as he’s still in the spotlight.
OK, hear me out: Soulja Boy’s Big Draco is the rapper’s The Life of Pablo, period. Not in terms of quality, mind you; this is functionally identical to any number of mixtapes the rapper’s dropped since 2016, all seemingly self-produced with a clear minimal amount of effort put into each product. Not that anyone has been demanding a fully robust project from a now 31-year-old Soulja, but with the occasional moments of Internet virility he’s still able to amass — usually at the behest of some other entity he’s claiming stole something from him, whether it be Tyga, Drake, and now Atari — and what usually follows is a predictable wave of radio and Internet interviews, where the question of new music eventually pops up (as if that’s the reason he’s there to speak) to be later answered by releases like Big Draco. True, it has been incredible to watch DeAndre Cortez resurrect his career twice over now by pure meme life-support — albeit in ways that he’s completely squandered and never once capitalized on, especially on the music side of things. What pushes Soulja’s new albums (this is first official since 2015) isn’t an interest in musicality, or even in basic artistry: what we’re here for is a continuation of his social media presence, for him to rant again about how he had the biggest comeback when he objectively didn’t, for him to claim he was the first rapper to do everything and anything (he sorta does so half-heartedly on closer “I Was the First Rapper,” as if he’s already tired of this bit), and to once again diss the U.S. Army as imperialist cowards.
He doesn’t really do that on Big Draco, but it’s that kitschy, self-referential quality that gives it the feeling of Pablo (plus there’s an appearance by Desiigner, for good measure) — especially on the bombastic “Bow Wow vs. Soulja Boy,” which serves as a sequel of sorts to the Verzuz battle the two engaged in earlier in the year. There’s zero reference to the occurrence here, and there’s not even the slightest mention of their ongoing beef over the years — it’s pure vibes, plain and simple. Which… sure, why not. But it’s also that sense of general indifference that plagues the album, making it lack the tenacity of Soulja’s more recent Twitch-stream rantings and ravings. On “10 Girls In The Lobby,” he and guest Omarion attempt to project as both devilish and amorous, just boys being boys type shit; the results are lame and listless, with Soulja singing in auto-tune with little to no clear melody detected. There’s not even the sense that he wants to be here, like the man is perfectly content with only being famous for being famous (which… yeah, probably true). He performs on cue, but with no passion or concern; he’s happy the spotlight is still on him, and that’s all that truly matters at this point anyway.
Published as part of Album Roundup — July 2021 | Part 4.