And just like that, the late rapper Pop Smoke has earned another TikTok hit with “Mood Swings,” a slow-mover featuring Lil Tjay. “Mood Swings” is a detour from Pop Smoke’s typical style, the Brooklyn grime he helped put on the map before his untimely death during a home invasion on February 29 — different even from “Dior” and “Get Back,” both of which have gone viral on the app. The song was initially recorded during the making of Meet the Woo 2, the final project to be released during his lifetime but officially dropped July 3 on his posthumous album Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon. His catchphrase, his sound, and his hairstyle all live in infamy. Now, so do the lyrics “Shorty got the fatty.”
“Mood Swings” emerged as a lip-sync hit somewhere between influencers being called out for not socialdistancing and Trump giving TikTok 45 days to get sold or die trying (T-minus 29 days, as of publishing). The two parts — “Shorty a lil baddie / She my lil boo thing” and “Shorty got the fatty / Shorty be catching mood swings” could be a conversation, you hyping up your friend, or a challenge to switch costumes (and by “costumes,” of course we mean a hat and a mascara mustache) to represent Pop Smoke’s Marianas Trench–deep voice. Soon after, creative geniuses started remixing the sound to tell other stories, like the crude cut “Shorty got fat” to joke about relationship weight (unfortunately co-opted by evil boys) or adding in a gunshot to make a point about catcalling. Some versions of the trend dip into TikTok’s fascination with “gender-swapping” clothing — a trend that only really works when its WLW and men aren’t just performing stereotypes. @court.lex has over 11.3 million views on their TikTok of them stealing everybody’s hearts. No one is exempt!
Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon revealed more of Pop Smoke’s range, dipping into urbano with Karol G on “Enjoy Yourself” and taking it slow for “Mood Swings.” “Mood Swings” is funny and sensitive (“Oh, you ain’t know I could sing?” he laughs in the intro), just as much as it goes hard. The album sits at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, right under Taylor Swift’s folklore; meanwhile, “Mood Swings” had the biggest streaming gain the week of August 10, propelling it from No. 59 to No. 25 on the Hot 100. It currently boasts over 27 million views on YouTube alone; imagine the numbers he’d be seeing with a rollout and music video fit for a king. I didn’t mean for the TikTok song of the week to be “a lil saddie,” but the “Mood Swings” trend and all its mutations are just a glimpse of Pop Smoke’s star power.