Status Ain't Hood

Lil Mosey Is, Regrettably, A Thing Now

The teenager in the fur coat is transcendently, magnificently bored. He does not want to be on this stage, in front of these cameras, rapping with these other rappers. He wants to be anywhere else, doing anything else. His body language screams with apathy. Unlike DaBaby and Megan Thee Stallion, two of the other rising-star rappers in the room, he does not look at this occasion as an opportunity. Rather, it’s an obligation, a thing to be shrugged off. When he raps, he puts the least possible effort into every line. He starts off by rhyming “the man” with “the man.” Then: “this a lame-ass beat” with “my dick eight feet deep.” He fills space by using the “ay” ad-lib as much as possible. A few minutes later, when Megan and DaBaby are rapping their asses off, rapping like they actually have things at stake, the teenager slunks off to the side and betrays no reaction whatsoever.

This was my introduction to Lil Mosey, easily the least impressive of last year’s XXL Freshman class. When he took part in the 2019 Freshman Cyphers 11 long months ago, Lil Mosey was 17 years old, though not a high school student. (“Dropped out,” he raps in the Cypher. “No, I didn’t graduate.” He doesn’t say it as a flex or as a confession. There’s no inflection on his voice. He just says it — a fact, recited by a bored kid.) Mosey had thought about maybe starting to rap when he was 14 years old. When he was 15, he moved to Los Angeles and released “Pull Up,” which was both his first commercially released single and his first YouTube hit. When he was 16, Mosey had an album out on a major label. I didn’t know any of this when I watched the teenager in the fur coat. I only knew that what I was watching was terrible. At the time, I wrote that Mosey was “clearly impatient to get back to total obscurity.” It hasn’t happened yet.

Right now, Lil Mosey has one of the biggest songs in America. “Blueberry Faygo” may have been Mosey’s biggest hit before it was even released. The song leaked under mysterious circumstances last June, and dozens of bootlegged versions of it were uploaded to streaming sites in the months that followed. “Blueberry Faygo” wasn’t originally on Certified Hitmaker, the sophomore album that Mosey released last year, because Mosey’s people hadn’t yet cleared producer Callan’s sample of Johnny Gill’s opulent 1990 hit “My, My, My,” a song that came out 12 years before Lil Mosey was born. “Blueberry Faygo” finally got an official release in February, and it’s been slowly inching up the charts ever since, outlasting noisier hits from more established stars. Right now, “Blueberry Faygo” sits at #11. It’ll probably be top 10 next week.

“Blueberry Faygo” is not, to my ears, much of a song. (This stands in stark contrast to actual Blueberry Faygo, which is delicious.) The song is replacement-level muttery singsong pop-rap. The beat is pretty enough. Mosey gives it a mocking, sticky playground melody without showing anything resembling personality. He raps about guns and drugs, but he sounds like he’s idly recounting a slow afternoon. This is low-impact summertime music, music built to melt in the background when it plays over outdoor-pool speakers. It’s not remotely memorable. Apparently, it doesn’t have to be.

Mosey belongs to a generation of rappers whose skittery, somnolent half-sung incantations mostly exist as background music for kids’ social-media videos. There’s no regional specificity in his music; he could come from anywhere. (As it happens, Mosey comes from Seattle, a city with a long and proud underground-rap history that also has a weird tendency to produce random-ass hits. At this point, Mosey is probably the third-most-popular Seattle rapper in history, behind Macklemore and Sir Mix-A-Lot. What a list.) Mosey crammed cameos from TikTok stars in his “Blueberry Faygo” video, and he shot it at something called the TikTok Hype House. I am vaguely annoyed to learn that the TikTok Hype House exists, or that this flavorless and checked-out rap kid made a hit video there. It’s a pretty good video, though.

The “Blueberry Faygo” video comes from Cole Bennett, the Lyrical Lemonade founder and video director who has codified the look of young rap America just as surely as Hype Williams did when I was a kid. Bennett’s eye has been crucial to the rise of a whole platoon of recent rap stars: Smokepurpp, Lil Skies, Yung Bans, Blueface, Lil Tecca, the late Juice WRLD. In Bennett videos, the visuals are entry-level trippy in that familiar Adult Swim way — clouds floating, CGI faces imposed on everyday objects, goofy camera angles. The colors pop. The special effects are cheap and obvious.

The videos aren’t confrontational, and they get away from the shirtless-guys-with-guns-in-kitchens aesthetic that still dominates YouTube rap videos. They float past in an appealingly absurdist sort of way. The rappers in Cole Bennett videos look awkward — slight, cringy, self-conscious, whether or not they have face tattoos and brightly-colored dreads. (They often have face tattoos and brightly-colored dreads.) Bennett clearly has a good instinct for what’s viral and what’s not; he keeps helping songs hit huge. For the past few months, Louisville goofball Jack Harlow’s pretty-good “Whats Poppin,” another slow-building viral hit with a Cole Bennett video, has been gradually pushing its way up the Hot 100 just behind “Blueberry Faygo.” Both songs are in the top 20 right now.

Lil Mosey makes sense in a Cole Bennett video. He’s gawky and small, and he usually has a vaguely bemused expression on his face. For “Blueberry Faygo,” Bennett has made the smart decision to put Mosey outside in the sunshine. He’s surrounded Mosey with synchronized swimmers and kids doing cannonballs off balconies. He’s presented “Blueberry Faygo” as appealingly disposable product — which it is, just like actual Blueberry Faygo.

As a decrepit old man, I am not supposed to like or understand “Blueberry Faygo,” and I don’t. It’s a song for people with active TikTok accounts. But it’s also a genuine organic hit. Right now, Lil Mosey is 18 years old. He could disappear utterly after “Blueberry Faygo.” He could become a star. He could get really good at rapping. (This seems unlikely, but things like that happen all the time in rap music.) Whatever happens, he’s already exceeded expectations. After watching that XXL video a year ago, I pretty much figured I’d never hear from Lil Mosey again. I was wrong. I’m wrong all the time.

FURIOUS FIVE

1. Bfb Da Packman & Sada Baby – “Free Joe Exotic”
“Watch me boogie on that pussy while I’m smoking bushy/ Baby daddy talking tough, I give that boy a noogie.” “I’m super healthy, mix the syrup with the Jamba Juice/ You ever got head from a fiend that was snaggletoothed?” “I’m really fucked up, they put gin in my baby bottle/ Tell my brother if he catch another body, I’m a tell my mama.” “Donut eating got me diabetes, n***a, fuck salad/ My bitch cheating, fed her to the animals — Carole Baskin.” What a fucking masterpiece.

2. Steelz, RJmrLA, $tupid Young, Rucci, & Azjah – “Get The Memo”
This LA posse cut would explode with energy even if it didn’t have all those motherfuckers doing all those flips in the video. With the flips, it makes me feel like I’ve got Adderall flowing though my veins.

3. Calboy – “Brand New” (Feat. King Von)
Two of Chicago’s most energetic young stars are clearly in love with the sound of their own voices. It’s beautiful.

4. Fivio Foreign – “Move Like A Boss” (Feat. Young M.A)
Young M.A doesn’t really make drill music; she belongs to an older micro-generation of Brooklyn rap. But “Move Like A Boss” stands as proof that, if you put a drill beat in front of M.A, she will rip that shit to absolute shreds.

5. Rio Da Yung OG & Louie Ray – “Movie”
Jesus Christ, that beat. I’m disgusted.

IT WAS ALL GOOD JUST A WEEK AGO

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