This is a song from Mi Mandela, an 11-track record inspired by Idris Elba's experience playing the South African anti-Apartheid leader Nelson Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. For this tune Elba drew on his friends experiences of prison to help grasp Mandela's 27 years spent locked away. "It's about being stuck in walls," Elba told NME, "and everything you dream of gets thrown away. But in the case of Mandela, he stared at those walls for so long, and he held on in his dreams didn't go away."
"We could relate," he added, "I've had friends that have gone to jail and I've had the feeling of being locked into a space creatively was an artist, and suddenly you forget what you doing it for."
The song was inspired by an experience when Elba spent a night in Mandela's cell on Robben Island to prepare to play him for the role. He told Billboard magazine; "When I was on Robben Island that one night, even though I volunteered to go in there and get locked up, I hated it. It was horrible. It was a slow night. The place is haunted. The nearest human being was maybe three-quarters of a mile away, and that was a security guard. It was like, 'Wow, the guy did this s--t for 18 years.'"
"It put a lot of things in perspective," he continued. "Not to sound cheesy, but I had to hold on to my wits. I thought, 'I need to go through this; it's nothing compared to what he did.' So that became the song."
"Crank That (Soulja Boy)" was the most successful digital track of 2007 in the US with 2,909,000 downloads. On January 6, 2008 it became the first song ever to sell 3 million digital copies in the States.