Fetty Wap’s ‘Fetty Wap’: Album Review

Patrick Bowman | September 25, 2015 6:00 am
In 2015, one would have to assume that when A&R reps are scouting clubs, DatPiff, Soundcloud and YouTube for the next bankable MC, the first question out of their mouths is: “Well, how’s your singing voice?” A loose, tripped-out flow augmented by a lean-drenched warble is basically a prerequisite for hip-hop stardom these days, and the list of those who have ridden this relatively new style are legion, including Rich Homie Quan, Rae Sremmurd, Chief Keef, Young Thug and iLoveMakonnen, among others. Megastars Kanye West, Drake and Future have all either dabbled in or built a career on this type of sing-song rap, laying the groundwork for the trend’s current domination of the genre (there’s a reason West is revisiting 808’s and Heartbreak in its entirety this weekend). You could even argue the bloodline goes back to aughts sing-rap king Nelly.

New Jersey rapper Fetty Wap has arguably the slipperiest voice of the bunch, and deploys it much like an instrument rather than a sound effect. Where other artists find themselves stringing along halting, chant-like lyrics, often paired with unusual rhythms and jarring transitions, Fetty is basically the genre’s Burt Bacharach. His best songs are effortlessly melodic and composed with an obvious attention to hooks, bridges and verses; he knows when he needs to snap into his (relatively adequate) flow before delivering the goods of his crazy croon in the chorus. It’s amazing, then, that the first song he ever attempted to sing on was “Trap Queen,” when he improvised during the song’s recording in March 2014, and that his instinctual leap in the studio became his calling card and claim to fame. Now we are in a position where he currently has three other singles in addition to “Trap Queen” inside the top 50 of Billboard’s singles chart. The result is that, no matter what, the release of Fetty’s self-titled album (out ) is a bit of an afterthought, simply because it has suffered the effects of what is now considered a traditional album roll-out, rather than appearing out of left field with no warning like most hip-hop releases these days. And while Fetty Wap doesn’t stray from Fetty’s signature sound, there are probably a handful of tracks amidst the 17 (!) plus three bonus tracks (!!!) that could garner the same reception as his current singles.

“How We Do Thangs” is arguably more jubilant than “Trap Queen,” with Fetty riding the wave of Yung Lan’s cloudy synths and skittering hi-hats like he’s on a cigarette boat in the Caribbean, rattling off snatches of lyrics that need Rap Genius annotations to keep up with. But even if you only catch every sixth or eighth word that’s rolling out of Fetty’s mouth, it doesn’t matter: Like Young Thug, his verses are melodies that are much better felt than understood. The victory lap feeling of “Trap Luv” only underlines this idea, even as Fetty invokes a harsher flow in the song’s opening moments before he sails through the chorus, demanding huge synthetic horns to come smashing in with him.

Tracks like the bossanova flourish “Jugg,” the slow-motion house music-R&B fusion “Time” and the raw, Chief Keef-leaning “Boomin’”— replete with lightspeed-fast, chattering Young Chop-like drum hits — prove there are more than enough bangers on Fetty Wap to keep radio DJs busy and fans sated through next spring. The only issue is that Fetty is now a known quantity, and his robust album reflects what we’ve already learned. As of now, that’s not a problem, but it’ll be exciting to hear what he can create with some time to himself, when the tide of “Trap Queen” has receded.

Idolator Score: 3.5/5

Patrick Bowman