Lil Mosey Isn’t a Mumble Rapper: ‘I Don’t Know What That Is’

The "youngest in the game" talks touring, controversy, and how he got millions of views.

Lil Mosey

Lil Mosey

Lil Mosey

Lil Mosey is prone to grand statements. Only 16, he confidently proclaims that his videographer Youngtada, who accompanies him to a listening session and interview at the Complex office, is “the most poppin' videographer I’ve ever seen in my life.” Of his upcoming album NorthsBest, he says without hesitation, “Every song’s a hit.”

The Seattle teenager (recently transplanted to Los Angeles) may have big ambitions, but he’s also got the momentum to back them up. He’s got millions of YouTube views for songs like “Pull Up”; a new deal with Interscope Records; tours with Smooky MarGielaa, Smokepurpp, and Juice WRLD; a co-sign from Lil Xan; and a new video helmed by director-of-the-moment Cole Bennett. We sat down with the youngest in the game to find out how he got here and what’s next.

(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)

The most important question is, are there any good pranks on this tour with Juice WRLD? I saw the one with the robbery on the tour bus.
I mean, that’s the only one we did. We started making vlogs and stuff. We haven’t dropped any—that was our first one. That was, like, a vlog, but it was a prank.

View this video on YouTube

Let’s take it back to how a lot of people first heard about you. How did the “Pull Up” video end up on the website Elevator?
I just kept sending it in to the website, the Twitter, the owner’s Twitter. And then the owner, Bryan [Zawlocki], he seen it in the messages, and he was just saying he wanted to drop it. It was, like, a Saturday; he said I’mma drop it on Tuesday.” It went crazy after that.

When did you notice that people were listening to it? Did it hit immediately?
Yeah. Everyone around me was just listening to it in my city. And it just kept getting farther. Because the first day it hit 10k, second day it hit, like, 30, then it hit 60, then, like, a hundred, 180. Then it kept going [up] to a million.

You went on tour with Smooky MarGielaa. How did that come about?
They just asked me if I wanted to get on the tour. It was probably because we were both the youngest in the game.

During that tour, you signed with Interscope. How did that happen?
I had a lot of meetings with labels back then. I chose Interscope because I like the people there and the environment that was there. And the fact that not a lot of people get signed to Interscope.

You did a talent showcase about two years ago. Was that your first performance?
Yeah, that was my first. I don’t really count it, but that was my first performance.

What do you remember about that night?
I remember I was with all the bros; we was chillin’. I was nervous, but it just went away when I got onstage. Then I was like, yeah, I wanna keep doing this.

I’ve heard that the shows are going well. Do you feel like you’ve been developing as a performer?
Yeah. Every show gets better. Now I feel like I could perform in front of any audience. I used to get nervous, but I don’t get nervous no more.

Lil Xan brought you onstage in Seattle as you were first heating up.
That was my first real performance as an established artist. I met Steve Cannon in L.A.—they were staying at my hotel. They invited us to some function and then they told me they had a show in Seattle. They just asked if I wanted to come out as a special guest.

I wanted to ask about the late Seattle rapper Kari Cash. Was he the first person from your town to really back you up?
Yeah, besides [Young]tada.

Tell me about your relationship with him. How’d you meet, and why do you think you guys got along?
I met him through Youngtada. I don’t know why we got along. We have kind of the same personality… I don’t know, honestly. You can’t not love Kari.

Where were you when you found out that he died?
I was on the Smokepurpp tour. It was right when I was about to get back—like, there was only a couple days left.

How was it to come home after that happened?

Speaking of Seattle, you said on No Jumper that there’s nothing going on in that city, and then some people got mad, and you ended up sort of apologizing. Did you learn anything from that whole process?
I don’t know. I ain’t say nothing. I just didn’t explain what I really meant. I said less than I really meant to.

How did Cole Bennett come to direct the video for “Noticed”?
I met him at a video shoot for another artist, and then me and my manager sent him my music. They just fell in love with “Noticed” and wanted to do that one.

View this video on YouTube

Bape is a big thing for you. Why that brand?
Kari Cash. He was Bape from head to toe, so I’ll always be Bape from head to toe. And some Gucci, of course. He liked Gucci, too.

I saw a video of you playing the piano. Is that something you’re doing more of now?
Kind of. Whenever I see a piano, I just play on it.

You think you’re going to produce beats yourself?
Yeah. Once I get off tour and I have more time, I’ll probably spend more time on it.

The new Rolling Loud lineup was announced. How does it feel to be on it?
It feels good. Seattle, they like the Bay a lot. They like the Bay area sound, the West Coast sound. Our [sound] was influenced by the Bay area, so to be in a festival there is fire.

I wouldn’t consider myself a mumble rapper, because I don’t know what that is. But when I talk, I mumble. So it’s in my music because that’s how I talk.

What appeals to you about your producer Royce David’s beats?
He just knows exactly what I like. He engineers me, too, so he knows exactly how much Auto-Tune I use and different stuff like that. I don’t use that much Auto-Tune.

What do you think of the term “mumble rap”? Do you think it applies to you?
I wouldn’t consider myself a mumble rapper, because I don’t know what that is. But when I talk, I mumble. So it’s in my music because that’s how I talk. I’m not going for that sound. I tried to make myself be able to talk better than that and I couldn’t. That’s how I make music. It’s fire like that, though, so I don’t gotta change nothing.

One last thing: In the “Noticed” video, you put your lean in an Icee cup. Is that something you made up?
Yeah, that’s my thing, because we cold. It’s frozen out here. I ain’t see nobody else do [it], so I’m pretty sure I started that.

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