DeAndre Way was born in Chicago and moved to Atlanta at age six, where he became interested in rap music. At age 14, he moved to Batesville, Mississippi, with his father, who provided a recording studio for Way to explore his musical ambitions. In November 2005, Way posted his songs on the website SoundClick.
Following positive reviews on the site, he established accounts on YouTube and Myspace. In March 2007, he recorded "Crank That" and released his first independent album Unsigned & Still Major: Da Album Before da Album, followed by a low-budget video filmed demonstrating the "Crank That" dance. By the end of May 2007, "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" had received its first airplay and Way met with Mr. Collipark to sign a deal with Interscope Records.