Most kids’ milestones leading up to their late teenage years include gaining their parents’ trust to stay home alone, talking to their crush at the school dance, and avoiding that big, red pimple in the middle of their forehead on picture day. But by the time Lil Mosey turned 18, he had already earned his own music festival, a co-sign from Ice Cube and a spot on the Billboard charts.
After releasing a handful of songs on his Soundcloud page, the 17-year-old rapper saw his career skyrocket in 2017 after his song “Pull Up” became a viral hit and garnered millions of streams on Soundcloud and YouTube. The streaming numbers grew considerably after a pair of successful follow-up singles (“Boof Pack,” “Noticed”) and before he knew it, Lil Mosey became an online sensation.
The buzz that surrounded these singles trickled into the following year as the Seattle native signed a deal with Interscope Records and earned a spot on Juice WRLD’s WRLD Domination Tour. His debut studio album, Northsbest, debuted at number 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was met with a positive reception from fans and outlets like HotNewHipHop and XXL. To cap it all off, the baby-faced rapper landed a spot on XXL’s coveted Freshmen Class this past June.
Lil Mosey entered a new phase in his career with his latest album Certified Hitmaker. It’s a bold title but one that fits him. The 14-track album is filled with melodic trap bangers like “Rockstars” and “Live This Wild” with features from Gunna, Trippie Redd, AJ Tracey, and Chris Brown.
For the most part, Certified Hitmaker follows the same formula as its predecessor in which the baby-faced star talks about living life and having fun—the things a 17-year-old normally does. “This is my style and how I’m living. I’m at the point now that I can do whatever I want with music,” Lil Mosey tells VIBE. “But I’m still trying to show off my style and show off my way of music. I’m still trying to put that out there.”
VIBE caught up with Lil Mosey to speak more on Certified Hitmaker, how recording with Chris Brown inspired him, staying level-headed in the music industry at such a young age, bringing a festival to his hometown of Seattle, which NBA player he compares his career to, and more.
It’s been a year since you’ve dropped out of school to make rap a profession. What has your first year in the music industry been like so far?
I think it’s been a big year. I learned a lot and I became an adult. I went out on my own and lived real life experiences. I learned a lot when I first blew up when I was 16 and since then the year got bigger. I learned a lot of things like the business side and where the money goes and everything.
You’ve been hitting the festival circuit crazy lately. How do you manage with the grueling tour schedules at such a young age?
I just know I have to do it. To me it’s fun actually so I just have fun with it and just try to show off. Every show matters and all my fans are going to be there. I have to be there for them. They came out for me.
When did you know things were really popping off?
Before “Pull Up” I started blowing up off Soundcloud and that’s when I really started taking it seriously. After “Pull Up” I moved out to LA and once I did that I knew to keep my foot forward and keep going. I never stopped and it took me to where I’m at now.
What do you miss about the regular life of a teenager?
Before I blew up I was still living how I live now. I don’t feel like too much has changed, I mean yeah there’s been a lot of changes like how I go about stuff. But it’s been fine. I like doing what I do as an adult.
You’re following in huge footsteps like Sir Mix-A-Lot and Macklemore. How does it feel to be the next big thing out of Seattle?
It feels good. There aren’t a lot of people from Washington that go crazy so like just to put on for the whole state feels good. Not just Seattle but all the cities and towns that are near there. It feels good to be the one to do that for them.
You really are putting on for your city. You brought the Northsbest Fest to it. What’s it feel like doing that for your hometown?
It’s lit. I didn’t grow up off any festivals in Seattle so I’m just trying to bring some fun and something they’ve never had before.
Are there plans to make it a big thing on the level of like the Astroworld Festival or Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival?
I’m trying to make this as big as possible. Sooner or later, hopefully, it’s going to be the biggest thing Seattle has ever seen. I basically already had a festival on my tour. We were already lit and had multiple heads performing with me. We wanted to add like five more people and we were lit. I was just trying to bring something special to Seattle. I really want the next one to be bigger than the last. This next one is going to be a lot bigger for sure. Hopefully we can move to an outdoor venue and really go crazy. Either an amphitheater or something big like the WAMU Theater.
You’ve gotten crazy numbers on YouTube, earned a spot on XXL’s Freshmen Class list, been on an international tour and you’ve hit the Billboard charts. What else are you aiming for?
I want the top spot. I want to be number one. I need my whole album to go platinum and I need some more plaques too. I’m really trying to go crazy.
How do you keep yourself level-headed after getting wins like these?
I just think at the end of the day that this isn’t all that’s in store for me. If this shit doesn’t go the way I want it to go I’m obviously going to push my hardest to make it work. But there’s a lot of other stuff I have to do besides just music. I want to open businesses, invest in different things, and put more time into modeling and acting. I keep in mind that this isn’t the only thing that I do. I can do a lot more stuff. It doesn’t matter as much as some people might think it matters to me but it matters for sure.
What’s a day like in the studio for you?
I just go through my day and when I feel like hitting the studio I go. I’ll start freestyling and thinking about what I can make and stuff. I just play through beats I’m fucking with and start freestyling over them. I don’t force myself either I try to have fun. If I go crazy then I go crazy. Some nights I’ll make about five songs in one night.
You stuck to the same formula for Certified Hitmaker, why is that?
I feel like I created my own sound and style. I’m using this sound to show people that this is the wave. I feel like I’m definitely a melodic artist. I try to use a lot of rap elements but my main thing is melodies. I feel like what really brings them in is the melody of the song. They don’t even need to know what I’m saying it’ll just be replaying in their head multiple times.
You went from flipping “You” on Northsbest to having the “G-Walk” record with Chris Brown on Certified Hitmaker. What was that like having that experience with him?
It was fire. With Chris, I pulled up to his crib and it was a straight-up vibe. I walked around his crib and he had girls making food and stuff [laughs], it was some real rockstar superstar shit. It’s cool seeing all these artists I’ve been around before and shit. It’s inspirational. He started playing the song over and over for 10 minutes and then he started freestyling that bitch. I was looking at him like this nigga is crazy. Definitely seeing other artists do that and seeing that there are other ways to record besides like taking your time and always trying your hardest, you can also just feel it and go and have fun.
I notice the album has an outer space vibe from the album cover to the spacey production. At the end of the album you can hear a voice say “Mosey you have landed in the land of make believe.” Is there a story you’re telling here?
Yea all my projects connect. That’s for the next chapter though, The Land of Make-Believe.
Is that the title of your next project?
Yeah. We’re going to have some shit on the way for that. It’s going to be crazier and more vibes.
There have been people talking about an alleged beef between you and Lil Tecca. Were you talking about him in that Instagram freestyle you dropped? And if there isn’t any beef would you collab on a record with him?
Nah. I wasn’t even thinking about Tecca on that shit. I’m not going to keep talking about it. I said what I said. He’s his own person and I don’t know anything about the way he creates his music. As far as collaborating I’m not sure, probably I don’t know.
Looking at your live performances your fans go crazy for you.You’re giving out three free shows in the cities of Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle. What’s the story behind that?
It’s basically showing off the album and giving the kids the opportunity to see me live and watch a good ass show. I’m doing it off the love for them supporting me the way they do. I’m going to give back to them what they’re giving me. I love going crazy with them. When I see them running towards the stage when my set starts and shit at festivals, that shit be lit. That shit be turning me up. When I see them go crazy it makes me go crazy for sure.
I know you were big on basketball growing up so who would be your NBA comparison?
I feel like Lebron James, man. I feel like the king right now. I feel like LeBron in his prime. I feel like I put in too much work over everyone else.