On hold in Oldham: Soulja Boy's wrong number

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The Independent Culture

It seems unlikely that platinum-selling rap artist Soulja Boy has ever even heard of let alone visited Grotton. But for one family in this quiet suburb of Oldham, the singer's latest hit has bequeathed an unwanted legacy.

Ever since the Atlanta-based star's new single Kiss Me Thru the Phone hit the UK singles charts four weeks ago the phone at their house has been ringing off the hook.

"Sunday was complete hell," said Gerry Matley yesterday.

"We must have had 60 calls. The vast majority are from 13-year-old girls and they don't really expect to get through so they get a bit nervy and hang up. The others ask whether Soulja Boy is there. I say 'he doesn't live in Oldham and he doesn't talk like me'," said the 54-year-old father-of-two.

The problem for Mr Matley and his wife Catriona Howard-Smith is that shortly in to the Top 10 track after telling his fans "I miss ya, I miss ya, I miss ya, I really wanna kiss ya but I can't.", Soulja – real name DeAndre Ramone Way – raps a 10 digit phone number – the first seven numbers of which will put local callers through to the family home. Whilst some fans have checked out what they believe to be a hotline to the star as early as 2am the vast majority of calls begin at 3.30pm when teenagers come home afer school. Unfortunately Mr Matley is unable to change his number because he runs an energy assessment business from home. He is hoping that as interest in the song wanes as it drops down the charts the calls will cease.

"We have tried to get in touch with his record company. But there is no way through. We are offering to sell the number to them for his UK fan club," he said. No-one at the singer's UK record label Polydor was available for comment yesterday on the plan. Although he may be unheard of among the majority of listeners over the age of 20, Soulja Boy has become a massive star on the rap scene in the Unted States and received a Grammy nomination in 2008. He famously engaged in a vicious public feud with Ice-T after the Gangsta legend lambasted his work as "garbage" and accused him of "killing hip hop"' Soulja Boy, who as his name implies sepcialises in a more gentle, caring version of the art form, hit back with a mocking YouTube rebuff to the older man. In December last year he found himself the victim of a terrifying robbery at his home when he was held at gunpoint by intruders brandishing AK-47s. The following day a video surfaced on the internet featuring two masked men claiming credit for the crime. Ms Howard-Smith knew nothing of the singer's colourful personal when the calls first began but later solved the riddle after being told by her daughter about the song and typing the star's name into the internet. "It is really bizarre. I try to explain to them that I am nothing to do with Soulja but they will not accept it. Some ask if I am his girlfriend," she said. "I suppose it is amusing but we wish it would stop," she added.