I am a hip-hop head and could sometimes be considered a backpacker a few Tuesdays a month, but I'm far from being a purist. I don't hate all of this new "rap" the way that people who swear by Black Moon on Facebook do. I listen to Rich Homie Quan and laugh at Young Thug with the best of them.
If a song is catchy, I'm catching it. I love Nas, N.W.A is my favorite group, De La Soul Is Dead is my favorite album and Jay Z is my favorite rapper, so my hip-hop bona fides are set in stone. But I also rock with Drake (and couldn't care less what he wrote on If You're Reading This, It's Too Late) and have been asking God to bless all the trap n—gas, like Future charged the hood congregants to do, for weeks now. #WallahMagic.
Point is, I love music, and despite being in my mid-30s, I can still appreciate all of the youth-infused hip-hop that's out now. The production, while very similar among a certain set, is perfect for the club and supermelodic, and I love me a good melody. My favorite rapper used to sing "ch-check out my melody," in fact. That's not true, but it's possible that you see what I did there, which is a pun, considering that I'm about to talk about Fetty Wap. See?! That was also a pun that I didn't intend. One might say that it was … no pun intended?
So with this open-mindedness in tow—and much the way Waka Flocka Flame took over the radio some years ago—I found myself enjoying Fetty Wap and his back-to-back hit songs, "Trap Queen" and "My Way." I once attempted to enlist random women on the street to see if they'd be my trap queen(s), to no avail. I even defended "Trap Queen" when it was lampooned by hipsterish white people who seemed to be mocking black culture more than the song. And this past Tuesday, Fetty Wap dropped his debut album, creatively titled Fetty Wap. I listened to it. And now I have thoughts about what I heard.
1. "Trap Queen" was an unqualified success. I'm also guessing that it was an accidental success, in that it blew up way more than imagined. And this accident caused Atlantic Records to jump behind him and say, "Yo, Fetty, that 'Trap Queen' song? Hot. We need 16 more of those." To which Fetty Wap responded, "Say no more."
This album sounds like one long-ass remix of "Trap Queen." Which isn't a bad thing … kinda. But it also has 17 tracks that sound the same, which is at least five too many. Be that as it may, that one shtick Fetty has works well as long as you don't cop the album and only listen to him in clubs, as God (or whoever you pray to) intended. Somewhere in Atlanta, though, Trinidad James is scratching his head.
2. Despite listening to the entire album, I'm not sure I listened to a single nonhook lyric. And it wasn't for lack of trying. But the truth is—and it comports with much of my listening of the "singing rappers" nowadays—I honestly don't know, don't show and don't care about what they're rapping about. The few times I do listen to the lyrics, I start to (briefly) fall into the old-head "this is not rap" black hole (because they suck). Then the beat takes over and I just enjoy this music for what it is: a producer showcase with some new dude du jour that I probably won't remember next year.
3. I don't know who Monty is—nor do I care to do even a minimal amount of research to find out—but if you didn't know better, you might think that Fetty Wap was a group with, well, Fetty and Monty (Wap?), considering how many features he has on this album. One thing Fetty is for sure is a fan of Monty!
4. Fetty Wap has one trick, and he uses it on every single song. It's that "Yeaaaaaaaah, baby" with the Auto-Tune adjustment on it. Every song. It got to the point while I was listening that I wanted to predict every place he might sing it. I even created a drinking game but nearly killed myself two songs in. Don't do this at home, kids.
Or else use moscato so you can get to the end of the album without alcohol poisoning. Unless you're a kid. Don't do this at all, kids. Don't drink moscato either, actually. Be better than that.
5. There are songs on this album that sound more like straight-up trap&B songs than anything, which is where this obscured line between rappers and this new age of rap singers gets super blurred. It's also why I can't argue with folks when they claim stuff like this isn't hip-hop. I don't think hip-hop is only that boom-bap, DJ Premier-infused golden-era sound, but I also don't know what this album is, either. All I know is that it sounds good as long as you aren't listening too close.
6. I had a moment while listening when I wondered if I should be enjoying this album. I actively questioned if this was my music to enjoy. Then I realized that I pay my monthly Spotify Premium subscription, so it's definitely mine, since I'm paying for it. I got over it quick. It's like weave, except on my iPhone.
And yes, I just called 2015 hip-hop … weave.
Panama Jackson is the co-founder and senior editor of VerySmartBrothas.com. He lives in Washington, D.C., and believes the children are our future.