Cranks for the Memories

An infectious new arena anthem has some raunchy lyrics
November 19, 2007

THE RAPPER SouljaBoy's chart-topping stadium anthem, Crank That, is as Pavlovian as it ispercussive. The opening beats spur NFL, NBA and college crowds across thecountry into a dance called the Superman—and it's not just fans and mascots whoare performing. Hall of Famers (Jerry Rice, at Georgetown's Midnight Madnessevent), Pro Bowlers (the Chicago Bears' Devin Hester), rookies (the GoldenState Warriors' Brandan Wright) and 59-year-old college coaches (Wisconsin's BoRyan) can be seen doing the dance on YouTube. The 17-year-old Soulja Boyhimself headlined Texas Tech's Midnight Madness celebration last month and hasfilmed a promo for the Cleveland Browns, and he says that many NFL teams haveinvited him "to come over and do the Superman."

It's a Macarenafor the new millennium, but do normally conservative sports officials, who havebeen hypersensitive to decency issues since Janet Jackson's Super Bowl wardrobemalfunction, understand what's behind the fun? Apparently not. It's widelyknown among younger Soulja Boy fans that Superman, in the context of the song,is slang for a sexual act that cannot be described in the pages of SI. (TheCrank That lyrics contain the line "Superman dat ho," though theversion played in most arenas replaces "ho" with "ohhhh.") Yetseveral public relations officials for NBA and NFL franchises reached by SIsaid that while Crank That is typically played at least once per game at theirvenues, they weren't aware of any lewd implications. "We try to be careful,but there haven't been any complaints," says Teresa Shear, the DenverBroncos' director of game-day entertainment.

NFL spokesman GregAiello says his league had a laissez-faire policy on what can be heard overstadium loudspeakers. Once music has been deemed suitable for radio, thedecisions on what to play, he says, are up to the teams, with "no directiveand no mandate from the league." It could be that those who know what thelyrics mean aren't offended by them and those who might be offended areoblivious to the craze. Aiello told SI that its question about the rapper wasthe first time he had heard of Soulja Boy.

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