Despite all of his massive success, there are still people writing off Fetty Wap as a one-eyed, one-hit wonder. But while “Trap Queen” is a huge song for the infinitely melodic New Jersey sing-rapper — 255 million YouTube views, 250 million Spotify plays, formerly No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 — Fetty is not a one-hit wonder. Besides “Trap Queen”, he’s hit the charts with the West Coast thump of “679”, the skeletally springy “My Way”, and the smoother, romantic “Again”, to say nothing of the verse that Drake tagged on “My Way”. “Fetty Wap a brand new sound,” Fetty himself proclaims on “Show You”. He was right, and that sound is everywhere. The alien bends of his voice — “I got a Glock in my Rarrri” — mark him as a versatile and potent hookman.
By and large, Fetty Wap, the 24-year-old’s debut album, occupies the same structures raised by “Trap Queen” and the rest of the hits. With beats from RGF Productions, it’s pulsing, tight, and thoroughly melodic. Revelations are few, which is slightly disappointing given its 64-minute length. Fetty’s voice, a forceful honk, is so unique that I’m sure he’d pair well with vast, otherworldly production from Kanye West or Travis Scott. He never takes on that kind of ambition here. The album actually starts with “Trap Queen”, whereas other rappers would’ve put a cinematic intro in that opening slot. It’s still a perfect song, pretty much, and it makes sense that Fetty would want to put the oldest song first. Regrettably, though, it also gives away that Fetty Wap is not an album of risks.
Fetty partially makes up for that with countless hooks and the glimpses he provides into his historically overlooked city of Paterson, New Jersey, empty Backwoods packs and bottles of Remy Martin strewn across the bando. One of the things that makes Fetty an interesting case is that he notes his shady pre-fame dealings even in the midst of his euphoric, melodic style. Songs like “I Wonder”, which finds an ominous middle ground between Lil Reese and Jeezy, and “Boomin”, which sounds like it could be an homage to King Louie’s drill anthem “B.O.N.”, both root the album in cold realities to go along with the visions of Ferraris and Lamborghinis. It’s only right Fetty takes us to those corners. His life hasn’t been all fine and dandy.
That said, his name is in lights now, his spot in rap’s immediate landscape secure. For better or worse, “Trap Queen” won’t be fading from your memory anytime soon; there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be singing along to it a decade down the line, the same way you sing along to, say, “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’)” today. Unfortunately, Fetty Wap has hard-to-miss shortcomings as an album. For one thing, the “yeahhh baby!” and “1738!” adlibs get excessive, to say nothing of the repetitive lyrics and all-around lack of surprises. For another, Fetty’s Remy Boyz associate Monty, aka Montana Buckz, is on half these songs, and he’s nowhere near the vocal stylist or personality Fetty is. At 64 minutes long, the album eventually starts to feel thin on ideas, even as its standout moments (“Trap Queen”, “My Way”, and “Boomin”, among others) are still rattling around your head as “Rewind” brings things to a close.
Fetty’s rise to the top of music in 2015 isn’t just heartening considering his background — it’s genuinely impressive. Clearly, he’s a born songwriter, regardless of how much of his material he actually writes. The fact that his ascent happened so fast, before he had a chance to flesh out particular sounds besides the ones he came with, is a blessing and a curse for the listener, ultimately making Fetty Wap something of a one-note listen. He’ll get to new heights if he wants to; he has the resources. He’s on Lyor Cohen’s 300 Entertainment label with Young Thug and Migos, and Kanye West and Drake are hitting his line. For now, Fetty Wap stands as the culmination of Fetty’s year. It’s been a fascinating journey for both him and his audience, especially when taken in moderation.
Essential Tracks: “Trap Queen”, “My Way”, and “Boomin”