Rapper Fetty Wap has to be one of the biggest sensations to come out in the last few years, right behind the likes of Bobby Shmurda (remember him??). His recent debut album is loaded with a selection of hits culled from his mixtapes, as well as more than a handful of new gems. But the fact remains, in all his productivity, a few of Fetty’s best songs failed to land on the debut record itself. Some of these songs are the kind of records are a case of would-be-hits (if only), and others sound like the kind of records you could use on that guy who’s heard “Trap Queen” 500 times and has nothing good to say about the boy Zoovier.
But join us at HNHH as we unearth some of Fetty’s more unheralded jams.
One of the biggest highlights from his debut mixtape that seemed to go surprisingly unmentioned in the wake of Fetty’s brief period of buzzbuilding. “Instagram” feels in a sense like it could’ve been “Trap Queen”’s perfect follow-up; over humming neon-bright synths like something out of Araabmuzik’s trance-sampling expeditions, Fetty switches between a particularly soggy-wet rap flow and crisp, hi-definition hooks. The result: a super-sweet pop-rap banger that manages to frame a picture perfect romance in the rapid-fire pace of everyone’s favorite app.
Not enough gets mentioned about how well Fetty Wap can actually rap because well, his hooks seem to do most of the talking for him. Its reminiscent of another Harlem rap star, the incarcerated Max B, who constantly see-sawed between surprisingly dense verses and BBQ sing-a-long level hooks. “Barz,” however, decides its going to give you just that and nothing more. Instead, Fetty break away from his ear for a hook and instead opts to bulldoze the minimal ghost of a beat with tight-flowing and relentless punchlines. Its an excellent showcase of the different talents Fetty has to offer when he isn’t trying to sing his way into someone’s heart.
For all of Fetty’s success, one of the biggest flaws in his rise was that there wasn’t quite enough time to secure him a huge cult audience like most rappers. Going from his Up Next mixtape to the surprising heights of his singles means that, for most people, he seemed like an overnight sensation, and for all his enthusiasm and endearing qualities, songs like “My Way” or “679” just don’t offer a lot more from Fetty than his love for girls. But “Make It,” and its screeching synths seem to inspire Fetty to delve deep and talk about using success to help his family, and struggling to the top. Its no less poppy than anything else Fetty’s known for, but its records like this that help him appeal to the broader audience needed for a long-term career and not just a pretty good year.
“Decline” is one of the most recent Fetty loosies, a brief one-off freestyle that served as a present to the fans who were eagerly awaiting the album’s debut. Considering how well he rides his melodic flow here and the tension in the production, one kind of wishes he’d managed to come up with it a little bit sooner and slip it on as a dramatic closer for the album, or at the very least that he’d managed to slip it on as a bonus track. But if anything, it serves as a testimony that burnout is not in effect for Fetty Wap and more good records will probably follow.
One of the unfortunate costs of fame and success is that old friendships can be undone when money gets involved. Specifically, rumors have emerged that Fetty Wap and his old cronies the Remy Boyz have parted ways, with only his frequent tag-team partner Monty and Engineer “Peoples” to make the cut for album time. But there’s no mistaking that for however little time they spent together, Fetty was often the beneficiary of their efforts. On a shimmery track like “Bahamas” for example, Monty takes a radical step to the plate for a simple hook and Nitt Da Gritt executes a bizarre melodic double-time flow which don’t outshine Fetty’s starpower but also prevent him from being weighed down. Perhaps the gang will reunite in the future, but until then we at least have the memories.
Due to Fetty’s constant reliance on melody and hooks, many have written him off as more of a singer than a rapper. So “Gucci Zoo” works really well at draining all that excitement and fanfare and demonstrating just who Fetty Wap is at his core. Over a lurching sea-sick beat, Fetty grunts out a menacing trap banger that would be just as home around the most gutter and grimy trappers out right now. Its more important now than ever, because given Fetty’s likely rise into the pop stratosphere, a song so un-poppy as “Gucci Zoo” is almost a distant memory of the rapper he could’ve been, had “Trap Queen” not taken off as well as it did.
“Yung Lan Freestyle”
Although Yung Lan is a producer for songs by Rich Homie Quan, Young Thug, Chief Keef and dozens of street artists, he has not yet ascended up into the super-producer world currently dominated by the likes of Southside or Metro Boomin. However, his chemistry with Fetty on songs such as “RGF Island” suggests he may have found the artist to compliment his style, and thus help his rise to the top. With crisp melodies that recall early Zaytoven or Nard & B, Lan sets up a simple route for Fetty to navigate while he playfully stunts and struts with glee. Perhaps with time we’ll get a few more collabs encouraging these two to become the Gucci and Zaytoven of their era.
Melodramatic and deranged, “Zoo Wap” is possibly the most extreme of Fetty’s older material yet. Full of maudlin pianos, and with Fetty’s voice twisted up into gnarled and grizzled sounds, its right up there with even the most saccharine and weary rap records. Its a jarring experience that works in sharp contrast from the straight-forward and earnest material that he’s best known for. His warble about people stopping his shine is perhaps his most exaggerated/creepy hook yet.
“12th & 22nd (Harlem)”
Fetty’s rise might have begun in New Jersey, but his origins have him growing up and starting to learn how to rap in Harlem. It’s an interesting detail considering how indebted to Atlanta he is as a rapper, especially on “12th and 22nd (Harlem)” which sounds more like Gucci Mane and Yo Gotti than Cam’ron or Ma$e. All the same, in a post-A$AP Rocky & Bobby Shmurda world, it can’t be too hard to imagine a former New Yorker like Fetty making a trap banger. But its impressive how effortlessly he manages to embody his home and still defy all their traditions.
If you pay attention to Fetty’s interviews or his rapping, this kid loves Gucci Mane. Granted, everyone except the people he’s gotten entangled in beef with love Radric Davis these days, but there is a certain special affinity to Gucci that Fetty seems to hold onto. So much so, that he’s gone and made a tribute record to Big Guwop himself. Over Yung Lan’s grave piano chords, ZooWap decides to deem himself the ‘Prince’ to Gucci’s ‘King Of Diamonds,’ and does a fairly great rendition of Mr. Perfect-era Gucci with backup from the Remy Boyz. Considering Gucci’s love of taking on proteges, perhaps proper collaborations (apart from the “Trap Queen” remix) between the the incarcerated legend and the young upstart in the future wouldn’t be too outlandish a dream.