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Review: Fetty Wap's romantic and triumphant self-titled debut

The people's choice rapper of 2015 has done it again

Earlier this summer, Fetty Wap was in the somewhat uncomfortable position of being really, really popular, based on the merit of one insanely good song. "Trap Queen" was so good — it had the perfect melody, Fetty's brick-throwing chorus, and that weird slide whistle — it was hard to imagine he could ever top it, or even match it quickly enough to avoid being relegated to the catchy but cast-off island of one-hit wonders. In hindsight, there was never any need for concern. By the end of August, Fetty's first three singles — "Trap Queen," "679," and "My Way" — were all in the top 11 of Billboard's Hot 100, an impressive feat last achieved by the Beatles. If Fetty Wap's debut self-titled LP (out today) was rushed out to take advantage of his seemingly unstoppable momentum, it doesn't sound like it. Fetty Wap is a massive 20 tracks long, and they're all great. If Migos aren't better than the Beatles, Fetty Wap definitely could be.

The debut sounds like it never could have been anything but a classic

Fetty Wap is the best example of a people's choice pop star out there right now, and his rise to Billboard chart monarch probably wouldn't have happened a decade ago. Fetty first uploaded "Trap Queen" to SoundCloud in March of 2014 under his amorphous label RGF Productions. Early listeners recognized it as a hit; stream numbers continued to grow. Fetty already had a solid fan base when, six months later, the Atlantic-distributed 300 Entertainment got involved and pushed "Trap Queen" to even more ears (they signed Fetty in February of 2015). Before he was the guy behind the biggest song of the summer (and probably the biggest song of the year) he was just an unknown rapper from nowhere who freestyled over a knee-knocking beat and turned it into something huge. His trajectory from the streets of Paterson, New Jersey to headlining Summer Jam for thousands of screaming fans started small and slow, but it snowballed in a uniquely modern way. In April, 300 co-founder Todd Moscowitz told Billboard "Trap Queen" was the label's fastest growing single ever in terms of sales.

Fetty Wap is an album only in the sense that it's a bunch of songs all in one place. There's no particular logic to the LP's structure; these 20 songs could all stand alone as one-off singles, and that's fine, because that's what Fetty does best. As a self-titled album, it feels right that Fetty Wap is basically a checklist of everything Fetty can do. His helium-warble, his squeaky vowels, his heavy, thick-tongued cadence, and his edgeless sighs are sprinkled across the album like familiar jingles. On "I'm Straight," Fetty goes hard and fast, one word tumbling into the next, then punctuated by a squawk. The crew anthem "For My Team" is an airy cloud-rap dream in which Fetty sounds buoyant even as he test drives a lower register.

Here's something that may or may not surprise you: Fetty Wap is a really romantic album, which might be one of the reasons it's hard to do anything but love it back. "Rewind" is a mumbling R&B ode to a girl Fetty loves who's in love with someone else. The slow and shy "D.A.M." talks about love in a deeply infatuated way that will melt your insides and eventually soundtrack your weddings. "Again" lifts large lyrical chunks from "Trap Queen," but it's a pleading, helpless rebound song in which Fetty asks desperately for a second chance. Even "How We Do Things" and its fantastically goofy brush-off line ("I'm like, girl bye") feels like a break-up meme waiting to happen.

Fetty is so left field that he's universal

At a certain point, Fetty Wap starts to feel inevitable. It's the logical product of the internet, Southern bounce, America, the streaming wars, New Jersey, styrofoam, trap, Future, glass, AutoTune, overalls, Lil B, chipmunk electronics, Drake, Corvettes, leather interiors, and white jeans. It's entirely new, but it sounds like it could have never been anything but a classic. This, right now, is Fetty Wap's moment, but Fetty Wap makes a convincing argument that they've all been his moments, even before we knew who he was. How could this album have existed before today?

Fetty Wap is so far left field he's come back around and created an album that has huge, universal appeal. It's the American Dream: a weird kid from a blighted city who feels things really deeply is suddenly on the edge of being one of the biggest rappers in the world. Fetty's entire career so far has been fueled by proving people wrong, and with this album, he's done it again.