When Fetty Wap aims to win two awards for his ubiquitous smash hit “Trap Queen” at the 2016 Grammy Awards on February 15, he’ll encounter some formidable competition.
If the Grammys are just, Fetty Wap will get a chance to sneak a trophy or two out of Kendrick Lamar’s grasp
In the Best Rap Performance field, he’ll try to wrest a win from overwhelming favorite in Kendrick Lamar (“Alright”), and other nominees like J. Cole (“Apparently”), Drake (“Back to Back”), Nicki Minaj (“Truffle Butter”) and Kanye West (“All Day”). In Best Rap Song, he’ll once again go against West’s “All Day” and Lamar’s “Alright,” as well as Common and John Legend’s Oscar-winning “Glory,” and Drake’s “Energy.”
Those are tough obstacles for claiming an award this year. It’s arguable, however, that no other rap song made a stronger impact commercially and critically than “Trap Queen”; only Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” which curiously went unnoticed by the Grammys, rivaled it.
No one expected Willie Maxwell II, a virtual unknown from Paterson, N.J., to grow into a veritable hitmaker with three Top 10 hits
And Fetty Wap was clearly the biggest and most unexpected rising star of 2015. His lack of a nomination for Best New Artist is a Grammy snub, and echoes the unspoken belief that he can’t sustain his success beyond one terrific year. That assumption seems unfair. Luckily, unlike other pop favorites like Carly Rae Jespen and Halsey, Fetty Wap wasn’t completely shut out of the ceremony.
He’s probably used to the second-guessing by now, as he’s been triumphing over the odds throughout his life.
No one expected a rapper to emerge from New Jersey, which hasn’t been on the national hip-hop radar since the ‘90s and the days of the Fugees, Redman and Naughty By Nature.
Last year I was in a completely different situation. I was sleeping at different people’s houses and in cars. In a year, my whole life changed.
Heck, no one expected Willie Maxwell II, a virtual unknown from Paterson, N.J., whose missing eye, the result of a childhood bout with glaucoma which gives him one of the most unique looks in pop history, would grow into a veritable hitmaker with three Top 10 hits: “Trap Queen,” “My Way” and “679.”
Without any cosigns by famous artists to support him, he instead rose on merit alone, thanks to “Trap Queen,” which went viral after he uploaded it to SoundCloud in the summer of 2014, leading to a deal with 300 Entertainment/Atlantic Records.
“You gotta think about it, last year I was in a completely different situation. I was sleeping at different people’s houses and in cars,” he told i-D magazine last November. “In a year, my whole life changed.”
No one expected his Fetty Wap debut to be anything more than a serviceable collection of his hits and lots of time-wasting filler. Yet it not only topped the album charts upon its release last September, it also drew unexpectedly strong reviews.
Fetty Wap’s sing-rap may echo the yelping style of ‘80s rock gods Sting and Corey Hart as well as regional rap gurus like Chief Keef and Gucci Mane, but it sounds like nothing else out there.
He finds ways to extend the freshness of his delivery across an hour of tracks that may hint at street rap tropes, but never lose their candied pop sheen. Sure, the music can get wearying after a while, similar to giving yourself a toothache after eating too much candy. But having a surplus of hooky pop songs isn’t a bad problem to have.
It’s hard to argue that Fetty Wap should win over Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright,” which may have been the best song of 2015 in any genre. However, if the Grammys are just, Fetty Wap will get a chance to sneak a trophy or two out of Lamar’s grasp. He deserves it.