The rapid rise to prominence of the Internet as a music discovery platform has revolutionized the genre of hip-hop for good. With this relatively new luxury, music fans around the world have flocked to the liking of 2015 sensation Willie Maxwell II, better known as “Fetty Wap.” His stage name may sound like a joke, but don’t bat an eye when you hear that his new self-titled album has become product of critical acclaim. The eternal battle for limelight relevance plague many Internet phenomena like Maxwell, who step onto the scene with nothing but a catchy song or two to their name. Fortunately for Fetty, this debut album will keep him around for the foreseeable future, and that warrants a nice “YEEAAA BABYYY”.
Fetty Wap was released in late September to top off an incredibly successful summer for the Paterson, New Jersey based rapper/singer who seemingly hit the mainstream overnight. Although his career began just short of three years ago, Maxwell is a true neophyte to the music industry. He picked up singing in 2013 and released his first career single “Trap Queen” in March of 2014. Once he had the support and backing of music label 300 Entertainment in early 2015, the single skyrocketed to an eventual platinum certification. His follow up singles “My Way” and “679 (feat. Monty)” have both been certified gold since their releases leading up to the album.
The cover art for Fetty Wap features a dramatic close up of Maxwell with a hand over his face, but of course exposing the universally recognizable pigmentless left eye, which he lost to glaucoma as a child. From the fully-exposed slit of an eye to the “SQUAAAAD” ad lib heard in nearly every track, Maxwell is whipping into his way into pop culture without being too much of a nuisance. When it comes to staying in the spotlight, quality of music is most important, followed very closely by image. Maxwell is mastering both.
The three aforementioned debut singles simultaneously charted in Billboard’s top 11, a feat only achieved by none other than The Beatles. The singles follow a foolproof formula; one or two extremely catchy melodies are cycled over and over, allowing for effortless memorization. All three have become sing-along anthems, each with its own unforgettable chorus and sustaining verses.
Other highlights off the album include “How We Do Things (feat. Monty)”, “Again” and “RGF Island.” Maxwell’s friend and colleague Monty is featured on nearly half of the tracks, delivering a nice vocal pace change whenever it feels needed. Fetty’s voice spears each track with precision and strength, while the supporting beats are, for lack of a better term, absolute bangers. His heavy tone meets high-reigster melodies at a perfect medium. Despite the seemingly paradoxical claim, his vocal dynamic resembles that of Sam Smith’s. Both singers are able to hit high notes while maintaining a rich, wholesome tone.
As far as albums go, Fetty Wap is not the most cohesive work of art, but it’s not trying to be. It’s party rap. Themes and melodies may be frequently exploited, but when the opening synths of “Trap Queen” are heard at a Del Playa rager, all anyone will be concerned about is attempting their best Fetty Wap impression.
As an artist who met fame at such an early point in his career, Maxwell made a great move in releasing this 20-track album. He has provided close to one and a half hours of product for haters, lovers and fans of all levels in between to explore. Whether you decide to support one of the hungriest figures in contemporary hip-hop is up to you, but don’t jump to conclusions before listening to Fetty Wap’s eponymous debut album.