We at Fuse are starting our look back at the year with #2015Breakout Week, commemorating one undeniable up-and-coming act each day. For “Trap Queen” hitmaker Fetty Wap’s turn, we’re parsing out a few of the key secrets that led him to a No. 1 debut album, more than 319 million views on his signature single, three Top 10 hits and a fan base that will stick with him long past 2015.
Here’s how the 24-year-old father of two from Paterson, New Jersey pulled it off. For more perspective, check out our Fetty Wap By the Numbers infographic and read our compendium of the star explaining himself and his year in his own words.
Consistency and Personality. You don’t really fall in love with a Fetty Wap song without enjoying the rest of his oeuvre. “Trap Queen” wasn’t a “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe,” giving way to a good kid, m.A.A.d city–esque wide world where every track could live on a different album in a different era. “Trap Queen” was a blueprint with a quality assurance sticker slapped on top. Future, Young Thug and Fetty all prolifically paint in shades of improvised-sounding warbles and grainy raps, and the steadiness is the ticket. Fetty’s identity—which we’ll parse through more in a minute—is always on full display. If you’re in, you’re in, and he won't lead you astray.
Total Independence. Fortifying and preserving that consistency is the fact that Fetty Wap hangs out with his Jersey crew, 1738 Remy Boyz, and basically nobody else in hip hop. Drake added a verse to “My Way” in May; that version didn’t make September's Fetty Wap album. Neither did the official “Trap Queen” remixes featuring Gucci Mane, Azealia Banks and Quavo of Migos. Of the debut LP’s 20 deluxe edition tracks, there are two featured artists: M80, who’s on it once, and Fetty’s fellow Remy Boy, Monty, who appears nine times.
In a year where major albums from Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, Game, Travi$ Scott, the Weeknd and Ty Dolla $ign featured anywhere from a handful to a heaping of supporting players, Fetty kept his work locked in Paterson, and stood out for it. Dudes like Future, Jeezy and Drake put out LPs that were almost feature-less—but they’re all top-tier rappers who have been at it for years. Fetty started out like this. "There's no superstars on the album," he told Rolling Stone. "My brothers are superstars to me."
Positive Vibes. Fetty’s music does hopscotch down the archetypal rap roads of drug sales, "bitches" and booze—but he never lingers there. Surrounded by hip hop antiheroes, kings, activists and extraterrestrials, Fetty is an affable everyman with a style like nobody else. He's forward-looking, open to and enthusiastic about genuine love—and also just focused on having fun, sexually, socially and substance-wise. It shines through in both the free-flowing, casual lyrics and the tinkling, treble-heavy production. And there's nothing more positive than pies.
Nonstop Output. You couldn’t go a single week this year without encountering a new track from Fetty and/or his squad. Even if you weren't listening to every one, it quickly sunk in that this guy wasn't "Gangnam Style"–ing it. He's a recording artist. He started making music only two years ago and said he chose from 600 or 700 songs for Fetty Wap. Being that prolific will get you places, and it's helped get Fetty to the top.
Below, enjoy Fuse's March 2015 conversation with Fetty Wap: