Photo: Jeremy Deputat
Lil Mosey On The Staying Power of "Blueberry Faygo," Life As A Teen Rap Sensation And Getting The Co-Sign From President Barack Obama
Lil Mosey lives the type of high life most 18-year-olds can only daydream about. At the tender age of 15, the Seattle-bred rapper garnered worldwide internet acclaim with his 2017 debut single, "Pull Up." The track, which has since accumulated more than 33 million YouTube views for its official music video, went gold this past May. Not bad for a teenager.
But in Lil Mosey's eyes, living life in the fast lane at such a young age wasn't a choice—it was his only reality.
"I feel like growing up, struggling and surviving at a young age, I realized, 'Well, I don't have it like other people do, so I got to figure it out. I got to do something so my mom, my family don't got to worry about nothing," he tells GRAMMY.com. "So at a young age, I started realizing some stuff that other people don't realize … My mind's a lot older than 18.
Propelled by the success of "Pull Up," Lil Mosey dropped out of high school while in the 10th grade and relocated to Los Angeles to chase his music dreams. Things started to move quickly: He was handling "real-life business things" at 15 and taking major label meetings on his 16th birthday.
Fast-forward to 2018: Lil Mosey's debut album, Northsbest, officially introduced the then-16-year-old sensation to the world. The gold-certified album spawned the platinum single "Noticed." Lil Mosey had arrived.
The fast-rising rapper, who just hit legal age of majority in January, returns in 2020 with Certified Hitmaker (AVA Leak), an expanded version of his 2019 sophomore album, Certified Hitmaker. Released last month, AVA Leak is fueled by breakout single and song-of-the-summer contender "Blueberry Faygo," a platinum-selling Top 10 U.S. hit; "Top Gone" with Lunay; and "Back At It" featuring Lil Baby, the latter of which earned an official shout-out from former President Barack Obama on his 2020 summer playlist.
"I'm just a little-ass kid, and a grown-ass president know about me. That's crazy," Lil Mosey exclaimed.
GRAMMY.com checked in with Lil Mosey to talk about the staying power of "Blueberry Faygo," his experience as a teenage rap sensation and the life lessons he's learned along the way.
What's it like growing up so fast and blowing up so big at such a young age?
I feel like growing up, struggling and surviving at a young age, I realized, "Well, I don't have it like other people do, so I got to figure it out. I got to do something so my mom, my family don't got to worry about nothing."
So at a young age, I started realizing some stuff that other people don't realize. And then sh*t happened when I was like 15. I moved out to L.A. by myself and I started dealing with ... real-life business things that grown-ups did at 15. My mind's a lot older than 18.
Do you ever feel like you're missing out on "normal teenager stuff"? Like prom, bullsh*tting with your high school homies, getting in trouble in school?
No, I ain't even going to lie. I stopped going to school and stuff. I never even went to the school dance or nothing like that. I ain't even miss it.
You're not in school?
No. I'm tired of going to school. I plan on going back to school ... Once my music career started blowing when I was 15 years old, I said, "F**k it, I'm going to L.A." I dropped out, but I was doing online school for a little. I started touring, I started losing focus on that sh*t, but I'm definitely gonna go back and get my diploma.
When did you realize you wanted to be a rapper?
Probably when I was like 13.
How did you get to that decision?
When I got into music, I just started watching how [people] were really living. I started falling in love with that high life, what the lifestyle could be like. It's legal, so I was like, "This is a good way for me to live my dreams." So I was like, "If they could do it, I could do it, too."
So I just did it. Started getting better. Everything you do, you got to put 100 percent into it. If you don't put 100 percent into it, it's not going to work out like you want it to. I did that every day at home ... Woke up, went to school late, left school early and just went home, started working. If I wasn't working, then I wasn't making money.
Was your family supportive of your decision to follow that path? What did your mom think when you told her you were going to quit school and follow your rap career?
She didn't want me to. It took me a minute to convince her. I was telling her, "Trust me, it's going to work out." I started to convince her. Really, I just had to just tell her, "I know you don't want me to go, but I'mma just go, because I got you. I'mma let you know, it's going to work out. I know it's going to work out."
And then she let me go, and I just left ... She started to come around with me, taking label meetings. She's like "Yeah, you did it."
What does she think of your career choice now?
She just wants me to be the best person I can be. If I'm happy, she's gonna be happy.
Your career took off in 2018 when you were around 16.
Yeah, it really took off right when I was like 15, just 'bout to turn 16. I was in New York taking label meetings on my birthday ... It was like a good-ass birthday present for me.
So you're 15 going on 16 when things started popping off for you. When was the moment when you realized you had "made it"?
I mean, there's been times where I've said, "I made it." But at the end of the day, I know I'm not where I want to be. I know I can do better. I can be bigger than this. I can make more money than this. So once I'm to the point where I'm really, like, I'm doing this for fun, it's not even because I'm worried about, "I need to get here." It's just more fun, because I'm already where I want to be. That's when I'mma be like, "Alright, I'm where I wanna be."
What does success look like to you? Is it money? Streams? Touring?
I already realized money don't buy happiness. If people say that, then they lost; they don't know what they're talking about. Money can help you and your family, which will make you happy. But at the end of the day, there's always something that can actually make you real happy inside ... Yeah it feels good, but with money, there comes a lot of problems that make you unhappy, so you got to find other things that make you happy.
Music, that's probably the biggest thing that makes me happy. Once I found music, I got addicted to music, like it was a drug or something. Music—that's all I do. If I'm not recording, I'm making beats. If I'm not making beats, then I'm probably worried about some money situation, like, "How can I get my money?"
In between when things started to pop off for you in 2018 to now in 2020, what have been some of the life lessons you've learned in those two years?
Stack your money and flip your money. It's always been, like, flip your money back. Once I got my first check, I was like, "Damn, I'm up right now." But then I realized, you can't really have too much stuff, but you can. It gets to a point where it's like, if you don't wear that jacket, what's the point of having that jacket? So if I know I'm not going to even wear that sh*t more than a couple of times, then I'm not even going to buy that. I just started moving smarter ... with my money. I started thinking, "This n***a got a billion dollars. He's moving like this? Alright, well I need to start moving a little different."
I'm a rapper, it's sort of different because I gotta be an influence to everybody ... At the end of the day, if you got money and you're going to keep growing and get more money, that's not a good thing to worry about. The clothes, that sh*t's cool. But a billion dollars, that sounds a lot better. What are you going to do with a billion dollars? Make more money, and you got money to just buy whatever the hell you want to get, until you get to the point where you're like, "I'll buy whatever I feel like and it won't even pain me." 'Cause money goes fast. You start spending and it goes fast.
People are calling your track, "Blueberry Faygo," one of the unofficial songs of the summer, which is hitting a little different this year since we're in a pandemic. Do you think we're going to get an official song of the summer this year?
Fo' sho', 'cause people still care about summer. Regardless, people still going to be sharing with their friends, even if they inside. Summer's almost over, though. You right, actually; you speaking some facts right now. I don't even know if there is a song of the summer ...
Do you think "Blueberry Faygo" will take the song of the summer throne?
Sh*t, hopefully. That's for the people to decide. Definitely it hit ... At the end of the summer, it might get that title.
You released "Blueberry Faygo" in February. It hit top 10 in the U.S., and it keeps sneaking back up in the charts a few months after its release. What is it about "Blueberry Faygo" that resonates so much with rap fans?
I honestly think it's just a feel-good song. It's something fresh, some sh*t nobody heard before ...
I feel like that's what people need right now.
Yeah, in these times, that's what I be trying to spread a lot. I've got some songs that I haven't put out yet that I'm speaking on how my life has been. I like having fun with my music, so if it's not talking about having fun … then it's going to be about something real.
There's a lot of artists on the list. I f**k with Fivio [Foreign]. Polo G, he's hard as f**k, too. I really didn't pay attention too much. I only seen a couple of freestyles and stuff, but I seen a few of them, definitely. Polo G, he definitely going to be a big-ass artist soon; he already a big artist. There's a bunch of artists on there I actually don't know. They picked a pretty good list.
When you were growing up, did you look up to the XXL Freshman Class?
I watched YG on XXL when he was coming up, and now he's who he is now. Mac Miller, he was on XXL ... Being on XXL is ... it's crazy. Seeing me, DaBaby, Megan Thee Stallion—we all went up. There was a lot of people on that list that went up. It goes to show.
Do I genuinely like the music? If I don't really genuinely like the music, then I wouldn't even probably work with the person. It's really just about the music for me—if I like the song, I like the person's music. After that, do I like them as a person? Are they cool? They can be the biggest person in the world, [but] if I don't fuck with who they are and I don't like they music, then I won't even want to make a song with them.
While we're on that topic, who are some of the next-wave rappers on your radar right now? Who are some other artists you want to work with in the future?
BandKidjay, he's definitely one of 'em, rising artist. Jae Lynx, he's from Rhode Island; he's fire ... I wanna work with Drake; that'd be crazy. We would make a hit together, I already know we would. And Ariana Grande; that'd be lit.
Did you see that former President Barack Obama plugged your song, "Back At It," on his 2020 summer playlist?
Yeah, that was crazy, man! Shout out Barack Obama, man!
First of all, who knew Barack Obama was up on the rap game like that, right? That is probably the biggest co-sign of all time. What did that moment mean to you?
Yeah, I'm just a little-ass kid, and a grown-ass president know about me. That's crazy.
What do you have on deck for the rest of 2020 and beyond?
I'm working on my next project … a mixtape. You'll probably be seeing some singles from me coming soon.