Something strange happened recently: I gained some genuine respect for Soulja Boy.
How did this odd and surprising turn of events come about? It started with a song. A not-very-good-at-all song called “Let’s Be Real”. This song distinguished itself from everything else Soulja Boy has ever released by containing the following lyrics:
Fuck the FBI and fuck all the Army troops
Fighting for what, bitch? Be your own man
Fred Flores of the L.A. County Veteran’s Advisory Commission came across the song and publicly demanded an apology. Soulja Boy complied almost immediately, but here’s the thing: his apology is kind of awesome. Here’s the complete text:
As an artist, I let my words get the best of me. Sometimes there are things that we feel, things that we want to express, and when we put them on paper and speak them out loud, they can come out wrong. When I expressed my frustration with the US army, not only did my words come out wrong, I was wrong to even speak them. So, I write this to give my sincerest apology to all members of the United States military services, as well as their families that were offended by my most recent lyrics.
As a young man who grew up in the post-9/11 era, I have watched our country fight two wars that seem like they are never going to end. I have seen thousands and thousands of our brave men and women get killed in battle and often times, I think for what? A lot of people in this country are struggling to make ends meet and I think a lot about what if we had never gone to war. Where would our economy be? Our schools, our after-school and work programs, our streets? I mean, damn, 48 people got shot in New York City just this past weekend … in 3 days … I’m not saying that it is just because of a bad economy, but at a certain point we have to take care of our own people.
In no way would I ever want to offend those who are protecting our freedoms … a lot of homeboys who I grew up with, a lot of people who come from the neighborhoods we live in … In no way do I want to hurt any of our honorable soldiers who put their lives at risk, regardless of how they feel about the two wars we fight in. I am just frustrated that we haven’t been able to bring you all home quick enough and my frustration got the best of me. I am deeply sorry.
First: Notice that he didn’t apologize to the Feds.
Second: It’s pretty reasonable for him to apologize for saying “fuck all the army troops”. I can’t really blame anyone who loves anyone in the military for getting livid over that. It was not a particularly thoughtful way of addressing concerns about militarization and endless war. Maybe it’s just because someone clued Soulja in to the fact that this would be a losing (ahem) battle, but I actually respect the fact that rather than becoming defensive, the rapper took responsibility for his words and admitted a mistake.
Third: While apologizing for being insensitive, Soulja Boy did not back down from his criticisms of US wars. Rather, he elaborated on them, raising questions that everyone in this country should be asking and discussing. His apology is a lot better than the song itself.
Soulja Boy as thoughtful political commentator! Who knew?
(Besides The Atlantic, at least.)