While not mentioning Tekashi 6ix9ine by name, Grande urged the rapper to "to take a moment to humble" himself

By Gabrielle Chung
Updated May 18, 2020 08:25 PM
Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Tekashi 6ix9ine
Cindy Ord/Getty; Jason Merritt/Getty;

Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande are addressing accusations from Tekashi 6ix9ine that they "purchased" their top spot on Billboard's Hot 100 chart after their song "Stuck with U" debuted at No. 1.

It all started when Tekashi, 24, shared a video to his Instagram on Monday accusing Billboard of cheating and favoring Grande, 26, whom he alleged had used "six credit cards" to boost the charity single's sales in order for the track to secure the No. 1 spot.

"Last Thursday, Ariana's 'Stuck with U' submitted 60,000 units last second," he claimed, saying that his team had done an "investigation" into the matter. "They purchased half of those things with six credit cards. When we asked where were those six credit cards linked to, Billboard said, 'We can't disclose that information.' "

Tekashi, whose song "Gooba" debuted at the No. 3 spot, went on to also allege that Billboard "illegally disqualified 20 million streams" of his post-prison track so that "the people who bought the No. 1 — which was 'Stuck with U' — can go to No. 1."

In response to Tekashi's claims, Billboard detailed the process with which they calculate the Hot 100.

While noting that "Gooba" had "55.3 million combined audio and video U.S. streams," they clarified that "each data provider provides a post-audit number [of streams] 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. This is applied to all songs from all artists."

"Counts for a video on its YouTube page are for global plays, and absent any other auditing filters mentioned above," Billboard added. "Billboard counts only U.S.-based plays for its charts."

When it comes to last Thursday's spike in sales for "Stuck with U," Billboard writes, "The sales spike is likely referring to sales on Thursday, May 14 -- the final day of the tracking week -- when signed 'Stuck With U' singles were put up for sale in Grande and Bieber’s webstores."

In reference to Tekashi's claim about six credit cards being used to purchase the "Stuck with U" single, Billboard 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."

And in response to Tekashi's allegation that Billboard would not disclose information to his team, Billboard responded, "Billboard and Nielsen Music/MRC Data were open and forthright with all information pertaining to 'Gooba' with 6ix9ine’s team. That includes explaining the Hot 100 methodology and how the final ranking and chart points for 'Gooba' were calculated. Billboard and Nielsen Music/MRC Data cannot, however, provide granular detail on a title to anyone but its content owner."

Grande responded to the allegations on her own Instagram, writing: "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."

Thanking her fans for their continual support, she continued, "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)."

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"they are ride or die motherf---ers 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," she explained. "sales count for more than streams. u can not discredit this as hard as u try."

While she didn't specifically name Tekashi, Grande noted "only the women for some reason" were singled out in the accusation and asked her accuser "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," she added. "congratulations to all my talented ass peers in the top ten this week. even number 3."

Tekashi later defended himself in another Instagram post, writing, "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."

Alongside a video of himself comparing his upbringing with Grande's childhood acting career on Nickelodeon shows, he captioned, "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 💯."

However, Bieber, 26, broke down why Tekashi may have lost out on the top spot when he denied the cheating accusations on his Instagram Story, explaining that the number the rapper was referring to was his global streams and "this is a domestic chart so only domestic streams count."

The singer also argued that the 60,000 units Tekashi claimed had been submitted last-minute "came because we don't disclose our numbers until end of week. That's called strategy."

"He said 30k was bought with 6 credit cards but that is a lie. The rules are clear one credit card can buy max 4 copies. Anything over that the entire amount is thrown out," he continued. "Nielsen company checks this and found all our sales were legit because our fans are amazing and bought them. Don't discredit our fan base with false info."

Bieber added that he's "honored" to have worked with Grande, writing, "If you gonna say her name make sure you say mine because it's our song."

Justin Bieber's Instagram Story

"Stuck with U" was the first track to crack the 100,000-sold barrier in a single week since "Me!" by Taylor Swift featuring Brendon Urie was released in 2019, according to Billboard. The song also started out on the top spot on the Digital Song Sales chart with 108,000 downloads and opened at No. 4 on Streaming Songs with 28.1 million U.S. streams in the week ending May 14.

Grande and Bieber first announced their collaboration in early May, sharing that proceeds from the streams and sales of "Stuck with U" will be donated to the First Responder Children's Foundation to fund grants and scholarships for children of healthcare workers, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, police officers and firefighters serving at the frontlines during the coronavirus crisis.

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