In January, Spotify’s Viral 50 chart, which logs the fastest-growing songs on the streaming platform, was overrun by imposters.
It started with “Blueberry Fweigo” by 73bands, which debuted at Number Eight on the U.S. Viral 50 a few days after Christmas. That song only lasted a day before it was taken down. It was almost immediately replaced on the chart by Mikey.Otx’s “Blueberry Faygo” — an identical recording decked out with a new title and attributed to a different artist. When that song was removed, Yung Anime’s “Blueberry Faygo” sprang up in its place; it reached Number One. After Yung Anime’s inevitable removal, new versions kept appearing: “Blueberry Fejgo” by Khlaw, “Blueberry Fergo” by Lil Monet, “Burberry Faygo” by Lil Andrei, and “Blueberry Fanta” by Shmackdat.
All these artists are fake, and each posted a creatively titled bootleg of a song that has not yet been released: “Blueberry Faygo,” by the 18-year-old rapper Lil Mosey. While the artists are made up, the popularity of “Blueberry Faygo” is very real. One version of the song that was still on Spotify last week, attributed to an artist named Bennjp, had nearly 22 million streams, meaning it netted the uploader over $100,000 — cash that should’ve ended up in Lil Mosey’s pocket.
“A lot of people would hope to have 21 million streams on a song, and it’s just a random leak for us,” says Josh Marshall, who manages Lil Mosey. “I think it’s gonna be Mosey’s biggest record.” All they have to do is officially release it.
Streaming services have consistently struggled to prevent users from uploading leaks on to their platforms; there’s just too much music being uploaded daily to prevent some frauds from slipping past the safeguards. “When you have metadata problems coupled with actors in the system that are trying to game the system, these things will continue to happen,” Dae Bogan, a music licensing expert who founded TuneRegistry, told Rolling Stone last year. Demos or unreleased songs from Beyoncé, Rihanna, SZA, Playboi Carti, and Lil Uzi Vert have all made their way on to Spotify or Apple Music in the last 15 months.
Usually these leaks are flagged, often after a social media uproar from the leaked artist’s fans, and taken down relatively quickly. But some fans are particularly devoted — a leak of Playboi Carti and Young Nudy’s “Pissy Pamper/Kid Cudi” proved resilient last year, reappearing on Spotify’s Viral 50 even after it was taken down. “Blueberry Faygo” popped up on the viral chart at least seven times in roughly a month, making Lil Mosey’s listeners especially relentless.
It’s also possible, if unlikely, that the irrepressibility of the “Blueberry Faygo” leak is part of a bizarre marketing scheme, a way of raising anticipation for the single on a streaming platform before its official release. Labels sometimes employ a version of this strategy on TikTok. “Chance [the rapper] and TisaKorean seeded snippets of their new single with fans before it was even released,” Jeff Vaughn, now President of Capitol Records, told Rolling Stone last year. “They were saying, ‘hey, DM us, we’ll send you a snippet early,’ and they used that to seed it on the platform early, build momentum, build demand.”
But Marshall says the blitz of “Blueberry Faygo” is the work of Lil Mosey fans who are wildly eager to hear his unreleased music. The rapper hasn’t yet had a major hit single, but his last two albums, released on Interscope, have amassed more than a billion streams between them. “Blueberry Faygo,” a breezy, sing-song record built around the skeleton of Johnny Gill’s creamy ballad “My, My, My,” has been floating around on YouTube for at least seven months. Fans were begging Lil Mosey to put it on his November album Certified Hitmaker, according to Marshall.
“It’s like whack-a-mole… It got to the point where it was just too much. We let it be.”
“Mosey has a really big leak community,” the manager continues. “Kids pay like $200 a song for his music on the internet, and they trade his music like Pokémon cards. It’s a community — they all talk on Instagram, share Mosey leaks and Mosey photos.”
Initially Marshall tried to tamp down the leak activity. But it became too time-consuming, and it started to feel counterproductive to battle his artist’s biggest fans, even if they’re diverting some streaming royalties. “It’s like whack-a-mole,” Marshall says. “At first, it was annoying. I have interns and an assistant that used to sit every day, look on the internet for new leak links, we had a whole Google sheet that we would send in every week to the label. Then it got to the point where it was just too much. We let it be.”
That means the different uploads of “Blueberry Faygo” kept racking up streams. One new listener last week was Johnny Gill, the New Edition member and solo star who hit big with “My, My, My” in 1990, more than a decade before Lil Mosey was born. “Too bad I didn’t write that one,” Gill jokes after listening to “Blueberry Faygo” on YouTube. (“My, My, My” was co-written by Babyface, then nearing the peak of his powers, and Daryl Simmons.) “I’m happy that a generation is still inspired by and learning from this work that we did so long ago,” Gill adds. “It keeps your name in the mix.”
Marshall says the “My, My, My” sample has been cleared and “Blueberry Faygo” is “for sure coming out.” Interscope recently filed another wave of takedowns, so the versions of the leak that were on Spotify last week have been removed. But Lil Mosey’s manager downloaded one of the leaks on iTunes, just like everyone else. “I’m just gonna put this in my Apple Music so I can hear it too,” Marshall says. “Until we put it out, it is what it is. We can’t stop these kids at all.”