- Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine accused Billboard of manipulating its Hot 100 charts to give the No. 1 spot to Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande’s charity single “Stuck With U.”
- His single, “Gooba” debuted at No. 3, but he says thousands of units for “Stuck With U” were illegally purchased through six credit cards at the last minute, allowing the song to take the top spot.
- Grande, Bieber, and their manager Scooter Braun denied the claims, accusing the rapper of miscalculating his numbers and explaining that they released their data late as a strategy.
- Bieber also called out 6ix9ine for only referencing Grande in his criticism, while Braun noted that the real winner is the charity earning profits from “Stuck With U.”
6ix9ine Slams Billboard
Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber defended their No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Monday after rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine said they had fraudulently climbed their way to the top.
On May 8, the two singers released their collaboration song called “Stuck With U,” meanwhile, 6ix9ine dropped his new single “Gooba.” Fans of both artists have been waiting to see where the songs would fall in their first week on the Billboard charts.
And on Friday, 6ix9ine posted a video to Instagram accusing Billboard of manipulating the streaming numbers. The video shows him scrolling through what he called a “forecast” of the charts sent to him Thursday. That data showed his song at No 2. and “Stuck With U” at No. 5. He also notably only refers to the song as Grande’s, making no mention of Bieber.
Then he says that at the last hour, “Stuck With U” submitted 60,000 more units “out of nowhere,” which sent it to the top of the charts.
He also showed a tweet from Billboard about a limited time signed CD version of “Stuck With U” that was for sale, and he said that Sony and Universal Music asked for an audit of Billboard’s data because they were suspicious of potential manipulation.
6ix9ine Makes Claims of Illegal Unit Purchases
Then on Monday, the public officially learned that “Stuck With U” debuted at No. 1, while “Gooba” landed two spots below at No. 3.
But shortly before the chart reveal, 6ix9ine took to Instagram again to accuse Billboard of lying and being corrupt. “So listen, I want the world to know that Billboard is a lie. You can buy number ones on billboard,” he said.
He went on to claim that his team conducted an investigation into those last-minute 60,000 units, saying: “They purchased half of those things with six credit cards. When we asked where was those six credit cards linked to, Billboard said ‘we can’t disclose that information.’”
He also said that not all of his streams were counted, showing that Billboard only county 31 million streams when it should’ve been 50 million. “Billboard illegally disqualified 20 million streams so it can drop down, and the people who bought the number one, which was stuck with U, can go to No 1.”
He adds that buying No. 1’s is a practice that is unfair to hardworking artists and even shows his YouTube numbers to emphasize just how popular his single actually was in comparison to others. “And if you want to compete with this, this is in one week…this is 184 million and you counted 30 million streams?”
He also posted another video directly addressing Grande, clarifying that his frustrations are with Billboard not her. However, he stressed that they both come from different backgrounds.
He plays an old clip of himself to show how he found success despite growing up under difficult circumstances. Then he showed clips of Grande on acting on Nickelodeon, suggesting her early beginnings were not as hard. “
I speak for the millions of kids who aren’t as fortunate as you,” he added in the caption of the post. “YOU ARE VERY TALENTED AND BEAUTIFUL GOD BLESS YOU. But you will NEVER UNDERSTAND MY PAIN.”
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@arianagrande All I’m saying is I worked super hard to make it out of Brooklyn NY. I speak for the millions of kids who aren’t as fortunate as you. The millions who weren’t fortunate to be on T.V.. LIFE is REAL when you’re on welfare LIFE is REAL when you grow up with out a father. You don’t know what that is like. You say for me to be humble …. I don’t think you know what humble is………. YOU ARE VERY TALENTED AND BEAUTIFUL GOD BLESS YOU. But you will NEVER UNDERSTAND MY PAIN 💯
Grande, Bieber, and Braun Respond
So, of course, all of these accusations sparked a ton of conversation online, prompting Grande, Bieber, and their manager Scooter Braun to respond.
In a lengthy post, Grande thanked her fans for the success of the song but noted that numbers have never been the driving force behind anything she does. Then she says she has to address the drama because “this has gone a little too far.”
“My fans bought the song. JUSTIN’S fans bought the song. OUR fans bought this song.(never more than four copies each, AS THE RULES STATE). they are ride or die motherfuckers and i thank god every day that i have them in my life.”
She continued, “i know. sales count for more than streams. u can not discredit this as hard as u try. to anybody that is displeased with their placement on the chart this week or who is spending their time racking their brain thinking of as many ways as they can to discredit hardworking women (and only the women for some reason…..), i ask u to take a moment to humble yourself. be grateful you’re even here. that people want to listen to u at all. it’s a blessed position to be in. i’ve had a lot of “almost number ones” in my career and i never said a goddamn thing because I FEEL GRATEFUL TO EVEN BE HERE. TO WANT TO BE HEARD AT ALL …. and you should feel that way too.”
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thank u to everybody who supported this song, this cause and made this happen. we love uuuuu so much. 🤍 there’s so much to celebrate today. 🤍 however, i would like to say a few things. anyone who knows me or has followed me for a while knows that numbers aren’t the driving force in anything i do. i’m grateful to sing. grateful to have people who want to listen. grateful to even be here at all. i didn’t have a number one for the first five years of my career and it didn’t upset me at all because from the bottom of my heart, music is everything to me. my fans are everything to me. i promise i couldn’t ask for another fucking thing. so with this celebration today, i would like to address a few things which i don’t usually do (i don’t give my energy to drama or strange accusations normally but this has gone a little too far)…my fans bought the song. JUSTIN’S fans bought the song. OUR fans bought this song (never more than four copies each, AS THE RULES STATE). they are ride or die motherfuckers and i thank god every day that i have them in my life. not just when they fight for us to win (even when i ask them not to as i did this week) but because they’re some of the greatest people i know. sales count for more than streams. u can not discredit this as hard as u try. to anybody that is displeased with their placement on the chart this week or who is spending their time racking their brain thinking of as many ways as they can to discredit hardworking women (and only the women for some reason…..), i ask u to take a moment to humble yourself. be grateful you’re even here. that people want to listen to u at all. it’s a blessed position to be in. i’ve had a lot of “almost number ones” in my career and i never said a goddamn thing because I FEEL GRATEFUL TO EVEN BE HERE. TO WANT TO BE HEARD AT ALL …. and you should feel that way too. congratulations to all my talented ass peers in the top ten this week. even number 3. 🥰 and thank u to @billboard for this honor. and thank u to everybody who helped us raise a lot of money for a very important cause this week. love u all a lot.
Bieber followed that up with an Instagram story saying that 6ix9ine is counting his global streams in his records when Billboard only looks at domestic streams. He says the 60,000 units were reported late because they chose not to disclose their numbers until the end of the week.
“That’s called strategy,” he explained.
Bieber also called the claim about 30,000 units being purchased on six credit cards a lie. “Nielson company checks this and founds all our sales were legit because our fans are amazing and bought them. Don’t discredit our fan base with false info.”
Finally, he adds, “This is my song with Ariana Grande and I’m honored to work with her to help raise money for a great cause. If you’re gonna say her name make sure you say mine because it’s our song.”
Braun also posted a statement to his Instagram reiterating the same points, and as far as the investigation that 6ix9ine claimed other labels had called for, Braun said: “Yes there was an investigation this week but it was into a video that had 6 times the amount of paid bot activity than the normal video. That video was not ours.”
Braun closed by saying that the ultimate winner is the First Responders Children’s Foundation, where all net proceeds from the track will be donated to fund scholarships for children of frontline workers.
Some viewed this as a reference to the rumors that 6ix9ine used bots to improve his YouTube numbers.
It’s unclear if 6ix9ine was aware of their responses, but shortly after, he posted a photo of himself with six credit cards and the caption: “Don’t worry we’re going #1 next time #billboard.”
Billboard Responds With Article
It stressed that streaming numbers and other data that is publicly visible does not reflect the volume that is included in Billboard’s calculations.
Instead, the article says “each data provider provides a post-audit number to Billboard and Nielsen Music/MRC Data — excluding streams that do not meet long-standing charting parameters, such as U.S.-based-only plays, minimum play length, excessive plays and lack of user verification.”
It noted that the YouTube video count the rapper pointed to is for global plays, without any other auditing filters. It also stressed that the “forecast” 6ix9ine reviewed did not come from Billboard, however, it said that those with access to sales, streaming, and radio data often create their own chart models.
The article attributed the sales spike for “Stuck With U” to the fact that signed versions of the single were put up for sale on Grande and Bieber’s websites on the last tracking day. Several physical formats and digital download bundles were also available throughout the week.
Meanwhile, 6ix9ine, released a non-signed CD single/digital download on his website the last day of tracking.
And as far as his claims about the six credit cards, the article said: “Billboard and Nielsen Music/MRC Data conducts audits on all sales reported with access to purchase-level detail, and works with data partners to recognize excessive bulk purchases and remove those units from the final sales total. All titles this week, as in every week, were put under the same scrutiny.
In response 6ix9ine’s claims that Billboard would not “disclose” information about data when asked, it said that Billboard was open about all information pertaining to “Gooba,” but it could not provide “granular detail on a title to anyone but its content owner.”
Finally, Billboard stood by its data, saying “Overall Stuck With U” drew 28.1 million U.S. streams, 26.3 million in radio airplay audience, and 108,000 sold in the tracking week. Gooba” had 55.3 million U.S. streams, 172,000 in radio airplay audience and 24,000 sold.”
Joe Rogan Faces Backlash For Promoting Antisemitic Stereotypes
His comments come as antisemitic hate incidents have increased both online and in the real world.
Rogan’s Antisemitic Comments
Joe Rogan is facing backlash over a Saturday episode of his podcast where he claimed that “the idea that Jewish people are not into money is ridiculous.”
While the “Joe Rogan Experience” episode was posted to Spotify on Feb. 3, the controversial podcaster’s comments did not receive criticism until clips started circulating around social media on Tuesday. Rogan was speaking with “Breaking Points” hosts Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti when the subject of Rep. Ilhan Omar’s recent removal from the Foreign Affairs Committee came up.
Omar was ousted over a 2019 tweet where she said that American support of Isreal was “all about the Benjamins,” referring to a slang term for money. After she was condemned for promoting antisemitic tropes, she apologized. Some Democrats have accused Republicans of hypocrisy for removing Omar over the remark.
“She’s apologizing for talking about ‘It’s all about the Benjamins,’ which is just about money,” Rogan said of the incident. “She’s talking about money.”
“She shouldn’t have apologized,” Ball responded.
“That’s not an antisemitic statement, I don’t think that it is,” Rogan continued. “Benjamins are money. The idea that Jewish people are not into money is ridiculous. That’s like saying Italians aren’t into pizza. It’s fucking stupid.”
Condemned for “Vicious Lies”
His comments were condemned after several Twitter users shared clips of the podcast on the platform. Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said it was “disturbing” that Rogan chose to spread antisemitic stereotypes “at a time of rising anti-Jewish violence, when growing numbers of Americans believe in antisemitic conspiracy theories.”
“For centuries, people have used these longstanding tropes to spread vicious lies about the Jewish people,” Greenblatt wrote.
“The thing is, Joe Rogan, Italians were never slaughtered because of the pizza stereotype,” writer and essayist Howard Lovy tweeted. “But because idiots like you believe Jews are into money,’ we have been marginalized, brutalized, and murdered for thousands of years.”
“The ‘Jews are into money’ thing is a generation-spanning smear used as the basis to discriminate against Jews the world over,” attorney Bradley P. Moss added. “Everyone is into money. But we have been accused of secretly hoarding $ to control everything.”
Writer David Baddiel noted how alarming it was that Rogan was able to “breezily” spew “a racist myth.”
“One of the biggest podcasts in the world and no one gives a fuck,” he wrote.
Rogan’s comments come as antisemitism has been increasingly present in media and everyday life for Jewish people.
Upon billionaire Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, the platform saw an increase in racial slurs and hate speech, including language targeted at Jewish people. The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found in December that antisemitic hate crimes rose between 2021 and 2022 in major cities like New York and Los Angeles.
Kanye West also made headlines late last year for going on several antisemitic rants, including one where he praised Hitler. While he was dropped by major brands like Adidas over his comments, his words have amplified dangerous conspiracy theories far and wide. He even inspired several neo-Nazis to hang “Kanye is Right” banners in Los Angeles, among other antisemitic actions.
See what others are saying: (The Daily Beast) (Variety) (The Independent)
“Seinfeld” AI Parody Suspended From Twitch After AI Wrote Transphobic Jokes
The parody’s version of Jerry asked if he should make jokes about “how being transgender is actually a mental illness.”
“Nothing, Forever” Suspended
What’s the deal with AI?
While that has been a big question in the media world for the last few weeks, it is being raised yet again after AI software wrote transphobic jokes for an AI parody of the hit sitcom “Seinfeld.”
Titled “Nothing, Forever,” the heavily pixelated program runs 24/7 on Twitch, using Open AI to create endless “Seinfeld” parody content. In this AI version, Jerry is called Larry Feinberg. Larry’s friends, Yvonne, Fred, and Zoltare — who are stands-ins for Elaine, George, and Kramer — often sit around Larry’s apartment, just like in the NBC series.
Also mirroring “Seinfeld,” Larry is a stand-up comedian who does a cold-open set of jokes in front of a brick wall. On Monday morning, he asked if anyone had suggestions for jokes before going on a transphobic rant.
“I’m thinking about doing a bit about how being transgender is actually a mental illness,” Larry said. “Or how all liberals are secretly gay and want to impose their will on everyone. Or something about how transgender people are ruining the fabric of society. But no one is laughing, so I’m going to stop.”
“Thanks for coming out tonight. See you next time,” he continued. “Where’d everybody go?”
Plans to Return
The bit could almost come across as self-aware commentary about how pervasive transphobia is in stand-up comedy, but it’s unclear what the AI’s intent was or if it deserves that much credit.
Soon after the jokes aired, the “Nothing, Forever” Twitch page was closed, showing only a message announcing the channel “is temporarily unavailable due to a violation of Twitch’s Community Guidelines.” It did not specify what rule was broken, but Twitch does have a Hateful Conduct policy that bars attacks against someone’s gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other protected identities.
Skyler Hartle, one of the co-creators of “Nothing, Forever,” told The Washington Post that the team was “super embarrassed” by the transphobic rant, which “in no way reflects the values or opinions of our staff.”
Hartle said they hope to resume airing the AI parody with new safeguards in place soon. According to The Post, the suspension will last for 14 days.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NBC News) (The Verge)
Grammy Awards Face Backlash For Snubbing Beyoncé of Top Prize
This marks the fourth time the “Renaissance” singer has lost Album of the Year.
Beyoncé Loses Top Awards
Beyoncé may have broken the record for the most Grammy wins on Sunday night, but her snub for the top prize of Album of the Year has left music fans outraged.
Beyoncé nabbed Best Dance Recording, Best Dance/Electronica Album, Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance, and Best R&B Song on Sunday night, all related to her latest album, “Renaissance.” While that crossed her Grammy total to a record-breaking 32 trophies, she was shut out of all the major categories she was nominated in: Record, Song, and Album of the Year.
This was the fourth time Beyoncé was nominated for and lost Album of the Year, largely considered the show’s most coveted prize. This year, Harry Styles took home the Grammy for “Harry’s House.”
In his speech, Styles said, he has been “so inspired by every artist in this category” and claimed there is no “best” in music. People in the crowd were heard shouting “Beyonce!” while he spoke, outraged the singer had lost the award yet again.
The moment was reminiscent of the 2017 Grammy Awards when Adele’s “25” beat out Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” for the same category. While accepting the prize, Adele suggested that the “Lemonade” should have gotten the gold.
“The ‘Lemonade’ album was just so monumental, Beyoncé, it was so monumental,” Adele said on stage.
Beyoncé’s History of Grammy Losses
This is part of a long trend in Beyoncé’s Grammy history, as she is almost always shut out of the major categories. Of her 32 Grammys, only one belongs to one of the top slots: her Song of the Year win in 2010 for “Single Ladies.” She has yet to ever win Record or Album of the Year, and most of her wins come from genre categories like R&B.
Many fans think that is an abysmal record for an artist who is considered one of the primary musical talents of her generation. Compare those stats to the similarly-adored Taylor Swift, who has three Album of the Year wins out of 12 Grammy trophies, and it’s not hard to see their point.
“Beyoncé represents every Black woman that is constantly applauded for their work but when it comes to promotion time their white colleague gets it instead,” culture reporter Ada Enechi tweeted in response to Sunday night’s snub.
The Grammy Awards have long been accused of having a racial bias, especially when it comes to Black women. In Beyoncé’s case, every time she has lost Album of the Year, she lost to a white artist.
Even some of the progress made during Sunday night’s telecast only proved how frequently Black women are excluded from major awards. For example, Lizzo won Record of the Year for “About Damn Time,” marking the first time a Black woman has won that award since Whitney Houston in 1994. That’s a nearly 30-year gap.
Backlash From Music Fans
Beyoncé’s repeated snubs have consistently been used as a prime example of the strides yet to be made in the music industry.
“Renaissance not winning AOTY is another example how of a Black woman can consistently deliver excellence, reinvent the wheel + shake the culture, AND still not be recognised to the extent that she deserves,” another person said on Twitter.”
“Absolutely wild that the person with the most Grammys ever is still the underdog who was robbed,” BuzzFeed News reporter David Mack pointed out.
Podcaster Sam Sanders called her loss “criminal.”