Music is all about expression. It is by far the most beautiful and expressive form of communication known to humanity, and it is able to convey infinitely more emotion than any other form of media. This is in part due to the nature of melody and that the human ear can actually resonate with so many different melodies, identify their mood, and feel alongside with the music. Creating music is a relationship between the musician and the listener; it almost becomes a conversation between the artist sharing their perspective and emotions and the listener giving them a platform and empathizing. Being able to feel the intention of the musician is so important, and the ability to clearly communicate emotion is what separates good musicians from the ones that still have room to grow.
Genre separates music into distinguishable categories. For example, the average person is going to understand that there is a difference between Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble”. That is because different pieces of music are categorized based on their style, their instrumentation, and the messages they create. Some examples of popular modern genres are rap, indie music, pop music, contemporary music, and jazz music. All of these separate different voices and different kinds of experiences into their own box, allowing music to be easily understood by those who would not otherwise know where to start.
However, the beauty of music is that it is possible to become proficient at creating more than one genre of music; even better, it is possible to blend genres and to find a middle ground between two or even multiple different kinds of unique sound to create something entirely new and delightful. Separating music into genres can be kind of restrictive, but it can also help profile a new artist. One such artist who does not exactly fit into a single genre is Fetty Wap.
Who Is Fetty Wap?
Born Willie Junior Maxwell II in June of 1991, stage name Fetty Wap is a rapper, singer, and songwriter. His rise to fame occurred on the back of his debut single “Trap Queen” which reached number two overall on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in May of 2015. Maxwell was born in New Jersey, and spent quite a few years of his early life there. One of his early life struggles was the fact that he was born with congenital glaucoma in both his eyes, but unfortunately doctors were unable to save his left eye. He has been fitted with ocular prosthesis and chooses to not wear it fairly often.
Many fans and popular culture critics have asked questions and even started rumors about his eye, some saying it was the result of a fireworks accident in high school, and others saying that it may have been a gunshot injury based on where he grew up. Initially, Fetty Wap did not comment on the rumors, letting fans wonder and letting his popularity grow. In fact, he did not offer any comment when asked in interviews, instead choosing to just let narratives grow. However, eventually he revealed the truth in a 2015 interview with his mother. He now chooses not to wear the prosthesis because it makes him feel like he is hiding who he truly is.
Like many artists, Fetty Wap was heavily influenced by the music he grew up listening to and the environments that he lived in. Also like many artists, he allows those influences to become a huge part of the art that he creates and the messages he tries to share with his followers. His stage name came from a combination of a nickname (slang for money, fetty), and a tribute to Gucci Mane’s alias, Guwop. According to the rapper, Gucci Mane is really his only musical idol, and he considers him to be number one out of one in terms of real influence. He said in an interview for VladTV, “”I didn’t listen to music that much when I was young. It wasn’t until I found out about Gucci Mane. That was really when I got into music. My first iPod just had Guwop’s Chicken Talk mixtape on it at first. I remember when I got it, the first song I heard was “Chicken Talk” with DJ Burn One. Ever since then I was hooked. That used to be my Facebook name — Fetty Guwap. One of my proudest moments in music was being featured on a Gucci song this year.”
He first recorded “Trap Queen” in February of 2014 and released it soon after. However, it stayed fairly out of the spotlight for several months and did not gain popularity until November of 2014. At that point, it completely exploded and is now a certified platinum record. He then signed with 300 Entertainment as his label company with a distribution deal involved with Atlantic Records.
His first album released with them was called Fetty Wap which was released in 2015. Then later in 2015, he released a mixtape, Zoo Style, which featured songs like “No Dayz Off”, “Gucci Zoo”, and “Addicted”. He has continued to release mixtapes over the years and currently has his second studio album, King Zoo, in production now.
He has been nominated for several awards, including the Grammys for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance, the American Music Award for New Artist of the Year, and he even won the MTV Video Music Award for Artist to Watch because of “Trap Queen”.
Overall, he has had an impressive career for someone his age, and that is partially due to his genre-blending style.
What Genre Does he Fit Into?
Defining genre can be difficult, and fitting someone’s unique style into a box can feel restrictive of their art. Thankfully for his audience though, Fetty Wap has actually defined his own genre, stating in an interview that he feels that his style is “ignorant R&B”. He combines parts of Kanye West’s sound with some of Rihanna’s lyrical moments to mix Chicago drill with the new sound coming out of Atlanta. He is proud of his music, and states that he does not even really create for the money, but that he just wants an audience who wants to listen to his music. Even with “Trap Queen”, he blends trap, rap, hip hop, and even a little bit of grunge rock vibes to create a sound that he really believes in. He is proud that he was able to perfect a combination of singing and rapping to create a piece of art that communicated his thoughts to his fans. “Trap Queen” is even listed on a top ten list of most popular mumble rap songs by RapTV, broadening his genre even more.\
At the end of the day, art is art and music is music. Both rely heavily on both expression and interpretation and a conversation between the creator and the audience. Fetty Wap understands this conversation and regularly does his best to create a dialogue between himself and the people he writes music for. Overall, he has accomplished this well and has clearly created a message and a persona that many people over the years have related to. He is also a loving family man and he is talented all around, making him someone that a younger generation of aspiring artists can really look up to.