He isn’t quite a poet like Paterson, New Jersey's other most famous artist, and he's not really a rapper, or a singer, I’m not really sure how to define Fetty Wap, but people can’t seem to get enough.
Back in July, it was revealed that thanks to "Trap Queen" he was the most streamed artist in North America, but despite the odds he's proven to be much more than a one-hit wonder. Everything released after “Trap Queen” has found its way near the top of Billboard. Everything. But apparently even Fetty feels compelled to release an album, so after months of a historically successful run of singles, the hip-hop world, and mainstream America, finds itself with a self-titled, full-length album from one of the biggest hit makers of 2015. And while I can’t bring myself call it highly-anticipated or long-awaited, Fetty's almost incomprehensible popularity demands that we reckon with it, so let the reckoning commence.
My first reaction was some surprise that Fetty’s album is 17 songs (20 if you get the deluxe) with zero big named features and zero big named producers, he really did pick his squad over the industry. Even the Drake remixed “My Way” is absent, the original that features friend and frequent collaborator Monty made the final cut. The shining star is only sharing the spotlight with those that was shooting shots in the gym before fame and success, a risky but gutsy move. He's more than a one-hit wonder, but can his tales of triumph, love, and Remy enchant that same audience for longer than a few minutes?
His winning formula of infectious hook and melodies along with energetic crooning/rapping exist in the DNA of each song. The ability to create catchy records for the club takes me back to the early days of T-Pain, when his Auto-Tuned vocals could turn any song to gold. Fetty knows his lane is somewhere between romantic serenading and turn up tunes. He weaves between these two intersections, it’s upbeat and fun through and through, all the Trap Queens and Remy Boys will be satisfied with songs like “Couple Bands,” “Trap Luv,” “Boomin” and “Whateva.”
The same way each song mirrors each other in style and production doesn’t go beyond knocking his trap aesthetic. It’s a cohesive listening experience, it starts with his biggest song and doesn’t leave that comfort zone. There’s no big gambles taken, it’s exactly what you expect. Most of the songs will get stuck in your head, like anything that’s catchy, "Again" has been stuck in my head for weeks after hearing it only once. It’s the Fetty effect, even a song that you loathe will cause your feet to tap, your shoulders to shimmy, and a note or two might arise from your lip. Madness I tell you, madness.
I’m not a fan of Fetty Wap, but I'm not-not a fan of Fetty Wap. I don't think he's the second coming of the apocalypse or better than The Beatles, so to the extent I represent that vast middle ground between the extremes - I won't be revisiting this album. The charming formula that made him a worldwide star failed to enchant me. But I don't think the purpose of this album is to change my mind, it's to overindulge the ones that can’t get enough, a package for the supporters that have spent their day on his SoundCloud or bumping the mixtape.
Even though I’m not a fan, I find his story to be inspiring. Showing his eye on the cover symbolizes his fearlessness, in a time of hiding flaws he posterizes what some would deem an imperfection. Filling the album with guest verses and production from his longtime comrades symbolizes his sense of loyalty to his team. Even if the music fails to impress, I have nothing but respect for the man that’s doing it his way. Only time will tell if he can continue the streak of hits, but the album is a reassuring reminder that he isn’t just making songs and praying, Fetty knows what works, he knows what the people want. They want catchy, and this album has plenty of catchy, but I'm still not caught.
[By Yoh, aka Fetty Yop, aka @Yoh31.]