Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber have denied allegations made by the rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine that they bought their way to the US No 1 spot.

6ix9ine claimed that the pair – who are both managed by Scooter Braun – had bought 30,000 copies of their charity single, Stuck With U, to enhance its chart standing. He further claimed that sales of his single Gooba were discounted, resulting in it charting at No 3.

Writing on Instagram stories, Bieber denied 6ix9ine’s allegations, stating that if five or more copies of a single are purchased on the same credit card, all of those sales are discounted from the song’s chart placing. He stated that Nielsen, the US data company responsible for compiling the Billboard charts, had checked the figures “and found all our sales were legit because our fans are amazing and bought them”.

Grande, posting on Instagram, responded to 6ix9ine’s allegations without naming him: “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.”

Billboard published a detailed article refuting 6ix9ine’s allegations. “Overall, Stuck With U drew 28.1m US streams, 26.3m in radio airplay audience and 108,000 sold in the tracking week … Gooba had 55.3m US streams, 172,000 in radio airplay audience and 24,000 sold. Those sums resulted in the songs’ respective rankings on this week’s Hot 100.”

6ix9ine based his claims on an email showing a forecast that was allegedly sent to major labels last Thursday, prior to the chart’s unveiling on Friday, which showed Stuck With U charting at No 5. He shared images of a second email, sent, he said, at “the last second” before the chart sales cutoff, which showed an additional 60,000 sales for Stuck With U, placing it at No 1.

“Understand this, they bought 30,000 or so units on six credit cards,” he posted on Instagram. “It’s all manipulated, it’s all fabricated.” He further accused Billboard of “disqualifying” 20m of Gooba’s streams. “I want the world to know that Billboard is a lie. You can buy No 1s.”

Bieber said that the sales of his single with Grande were not reported until Thursday in order to beat the competition. “That’s called strategy,” he said. He claimed that the streams that 6ix9ine considered “disqualified” were from his song’s global streaming figures, which do not factor into the domestic chart.

The proceeds from Stuck With U go to the First Responders Children’s Foundation, which gives financial scholarships to the children of first responders, particularly those who have been killed or injured in the line of duty.

Gooba is 6ix9ine’s first single since he was released from prison into house arrest in April, after his chronic asthma put him at risk of contracting the coronavirus. He was jailed after pleading guilty to multiple counts of racketeering, drug trafficking and firearms offences.

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