Let’s understand how famous Fetty Wap was in 2014, exactly one year ago. To many, he was just a guy named Willie Maxwell with one child and another on the way. Another artist looking for a niche in the increasingly competitive New York rap scene. Even if Fetty is from Paterson, N.J., he's been absorbed into NYC hip-hop because NYC has never truly respected Jersey artists, save Bruce Springsteen.
His song “Trap Queen” had been out for a little less than a month. Nobody outside of small sects in Paterson and on the East Coast believed it would be a massive smash single. At best, it was Fetty Wap experimenting with singing on a song with a bit of a Haitian drawl. Like Future, who kicked off HAW at Arena Theater Thursday night and is arguably our greatest musician treasure since 2011, Fetty is Haitian. Go figure.
Twelve months later, “Trap Queen” has peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The video has been seen more than 80 million times on YouTube. It has come to a point where Fetty Wap is in demand. As in, Fetty Wap being at the MTV Movie Awards is a news story and he’s being compared to Future as one of the greatest love singers we’ve ever been blessed with. Now, we can't joke about what the hell a Fetty Wap is.
Fetty Wap is intriguing on a human level because he lost his eye via glaucoma, has the power to grow dreadlocks in mere months and has had his entire career transformed by the power of “Trap Queen." He’s in Houston for Houston Appreciation Weekend right now because there has never been a better time for a Houston club promoter to capitalize on what Fetty Wap can be.
I spoke to About.com about why people love “Trap Queen” a couple weeks ago. Yes, a large group of people literally sat around to attempt to configure how exactly does the “Trap Queen” matrix work. It’s a song about a woman who sells drugs with her man. That’s it. Here’s the gist of what I told them.
“Fetty Wap, unlike any other singing rapper out at the moment, decides to ask a question. An offer, almost too gentle and sweet. You don't get people literally asking women questions with a bit of sincerity attached to them. Then there's those rough additives of telling a woman that she's pretty and backing it up with a bit of direction. It doesn't take you more than 40 seconds and then the chorus before you get to the realization that this, a song about a woman who helps you sell drugs in a rather f—ked up situation, is the greatest hardscrabble love story you'll hear all year.”
A love song. Fetty Wap, a prince who has arguably seen as rapid an ascent in music as anyone, is going to have his own nightclub Saturday night, thanks to a love song. This could have happened in March or April, when “Trap Queen” was literally the second most-played thing on radio after “Uptown Funk” or Wiz Khalifa making his own “Candle In The Wind” for Paul Walker. It’s happening now because, shit, what other platform are you going to give Fetty Wap unless it’s at Beat Bash or the Car Show in November?
He’s also the proud owner of a rather unnecessary (but it exists) Drake feature in “My Way." You know, a song that was anticipated by far more people beyond the East Coast because it had "hit" stamped on it from the moment it left the studio. Drake, like former King of Cool brand leader Jay Z, jumped on it for fun and voila, a song is now available that has more than 5 million plays and counting on Soundcloud.
Fetty Wap is a thing now. He’s going to be here for Houston Appreciation Weekend, and more than likely he’s going to treat Venue like it was WrestleMania. Or starring alongside J.J. Watt in a commercial. Same thing.
Fetty Wap performs Saturday night at Venue, 719 Main. The show is sold out, but the ticket market can be a volatile one.