Did Rapper Soulja Boy Insult The US Army? No. And Here’s Why.

As a brief introduction, this is a devil’s advocate post. If you are incapable of suspending your belief system of knee-jerk alarmism to read a thought-out and reasonable explanation, I would suggest you return to your Facebook newsfeed and continue pasting statuses from your friends without looking anything up. Somehow you made it to this page, so there may be hope.

Also as a disclaimer, I have no particular favor for Soulja Boy’s work. I liked the Travis Barker version of Crank That, but that’s about the extent of my appeal to this fellow. I do, however, like to read up on something before I begin flying off the handle about it, and to consider possible avenues that haven’t been fairly explored, before I hop on the bandwagon with the rest of the sheep.

Lyrics from Soulja Boy’s Let’s Be Real track do not insult the US army. Soulja Boy is not committing career suicide with the release of this track. His misunderstood lyric, “f— the FBI and f— the army troops / fighting for what, b—-? Be your own man” does not appear to me as a literal statement, although the pairing has been admitted by Soulja Boy as a failed attempt to effectively express a message only those skilled in critical thinking might be able to glean.

The only suicide going on here is how so many people have so drastically taken the lyrics out of context and fail to grasp the complicated nature of lyric writing versus message, and literal versus figurative. The rapper, lyricist, songwriter and poet, if so decided, is a slave to pattern and beat — requiring sacrifices to descriptors and modifiers that would more easily express a message in exchange for a more coherent meter and rhythm. However, I think the lyrics as they are written do describe his intended message (which he later described in better detail in an apology for not having described it properly) well enough.

His apology mentions how he failed to effectively communicate that the “troops” that he refers to symbolizes the financial burden placed on America by the collective use of “troops” that he believes could be more wisely spent on stateside economic stability instead of overseas missions. The remark is directed, not to troops as a personal affront, but to those who would use obedient troops as tools for political gain and overseas missions of questionable basis, than more rightly for defense.

As a hypothetical example, say for instance that a loved one of yours was weighed down by the ideas and implications that troops were being improperly indentured to serve on unnecessary missions, and, at a boiling point in an argument, you shouted “f— the troops,” you might well have intended to say, “just set aside your concerns for now and listen to me” to something of the kind.

Likewise, the “be your own man” line is an emotional outburst, not a literal statement of disrespect — it’s a technique of expression that cries out against implausible causes in desperate grasp for a solution, in the same way someone drowning tries to grasp in vain for something to lift himself up with, regardless of whether anything to grasp is available. Instead of treating the misunderstood phrase as a literal, deliberate stab at military personnel, realize that it is a frantic, emotional grasping for words and not reflective a deep personal criticism of the military’s professional choices.

The only career suicide going on here are the simpletons who have never taken a literature class to know the difference between literal and figurative and opt to further reinforce their own inappropriate reaction by verifying with others who also similarly inappropriately react as they did — taking that collective misunderstanding as proof that Soulja Boy is insulting the military.

What we have is a misunderstanding that has gotten out of hand, and people have begun to revel in their own furor, to the point that they’re unwilling to depart from their anger despite having heard the truth. They’re so pleased with their own fury over a complete misunderstanding, that they’re willing to spout complete nonsense just as long as it riles up other people to feel as they do, further attempting to justify their own rage.

2 thoughts on “Did Rapper Soulja Boy Insult The US Army? No. And Here’s Why.

  1. Fuck off, he never said anything about the financial burden in his “apology”. Inappropriately react is an opinion from someone who never served and can’t understand the reaction. “having heard the truth”? He still said “fuck the FBI and fuck the army troops” that is a fact, don’t like it don’t bitch about facts. First amendment only protects people from adverse actions from the government, not from the mass public, if you don’t like the way people react then you are not qualified to write anything anywhere. If you decide to filter this then you are nothing but a hypocrite.

    • You just demonstrated an example of an acceptable way to repeat the phrase, by quoting in context with an assertion.

      “fuck the FBI and fuck the army troops” –Ben

      Those are actual words you used in the above comment, but the context in which they were used are removed. By your own rationale, you have just insulted the US armed services and law enforcement, and that is a fact without question. If you try to dismiss it by explaining the context, then you are doing precisely the same as the artist himself did, in attempting to characterize the broader context in which the phrase was intended.

      “If you don’t like the way people react then you are not qualified to write anything anywhere.” Why is it, then, that you write a comment? Are you not therefore a criminal of your own commandment?

      Also, he did talk about he financial burden of the troops in his apology, by asking where the US economy would be in the absence of the price paid to go to war, “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,” via TMZ.

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