It was a tough New Years’ for DeAndre Ramon Way. Less than two weeks after the artist known as Soulja Boy dropped his sophomore album (with a title straight outta the circa 2007 Internet – iSouljaBoyTellEm) to terrible reviews, he and his buddy Arab were held up at gunpoint in the teenage rapper’s ATL crib. A day later, like some Al-Qaida propaganda video, two black-veiled dudes with disguised voices and thuggish ruggish vocabularies claimed responsibility for the robbery.

But a new year means a new beginning, and January 6, 2009 is a good day for Soulja Boy. Today, Intersceope records released its first original online series, starring an animated likeness of one of the label’s most successful artists.

Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em: The Animated Series is the story of what happens when a teenaged pop culture sensation returns to high school. It also features Alfonso Ribiero, who can put a smile on any child of the ’80s or almost-twentysomething’s face.

The debut episode/music video is reminiscent of Outkast’s vid for Roses (right down to the older white woman playing piano), except partially animated, set in modern day, and with a hiphop bubblegum track instead of a short walk on a journey of fearless sonic exploration. Music critique aside, the first installment of the series is good for what it is – a fun, lighthearted display of moderate rapper excess and mild irreverence for authority that will no doubt do well with Soulja Boy’s barely post-pubescent fan base.

Directed by Eric Towner of Robot Chicken, the crude, cardboard cut-out animation ads to the appeal. It’s like watching a comic strip pick itself up off the newsprint and come partially to life (especially in the scenes that quickly pan from inside to outside the Hummer limo to catch Soulja Boy sing out the window).

And did I mention Alfonso Ribiero’s in it? And that he basically plays the goofy character with a pension for order and responsibility that we’d all expect?

Even if Carlton Banks wasn’t a fixture of your childhood entertainment, give Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em: The Animated Series a watch at Tellem.TV.

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