No One Could've Predicted It, But Fetty Wap's New Album is an R&B Masterpiece
Evan Dale // Mar 5, 2020
It’s one of the great questions of modern music. Though the innovative melodic rapper owned an entire chapter of the overarching 2010’s musical storyline, amassing billions of streams with his debut self-titled album, he also disappeared without much of a trace shortly after. It would be as if Good Music’s Desiigner vanished after Panda and a short follow-up run with Timmy Turner (which he did), but instead of the one-and-a-half claims to fame he had, he was working with the dozen or so bona fide hits that made Fetty Wap – with only a debut album – such a sensation from 2015 to 2017.
But now the world has answers. After a pair of less-than well-received 2018 experiments, For My Fans & Bruce Wayne, he’s regained his composure in 2020 as the experimental, boundary-pushing, melodically and romantically obsessed artist that, like it or not, has had so much to do with where hip-hop and its surrounding grey areas find themselves today.
With his new album, he sets his sights on R&B, bringing with him an expectedly visionary and addicting sound that hasn’t really been explored by R&B and Neo-Soul artists before. It’s only a seven-track EP, but it’s undeniably telling of an artist that has so much more music to give.
There’s a case to be made that – aside from his signature vocal delivery and antic ad-libs – what has always made Fetty such a force that reached far beyond hip-hop and deep into the stronghold of a pop audience is his unrelenting and relatable romanticism. He’s a sweetheart delivering rap lyrics about love and affection, and that has always struck a chord with those pushed from hip-hop’s usually staunch, brutal directionality. And yet, his sound has ensured that he hasn’t pushed away a wide-spread hip-hop audience that appreciates risk-taking and experimentation above all else.
He’s always been a rapper of sorts. His romantically inclined thematics made him a pop star. And now, the same traits make a transition into R&B almost nothing of a transition at all.
End to end as a comprehensive listen through Trap & B, the project is Fetty’s most adjacent to his debut. The beats are laced with explosive bass and bubbly electronic production. The melodies are unapologetically emotional. The lyricism is violently romantic, but with a rougher tone. Raps melt seamlessly into Trap & B’s sung direction, blending into a sound neither established hip-hop or R&B, but simply riding Fetty Wap’s more melodic edge.
Case and point: Black Friday. Off the bat, there are the things that make the track – a great microcosm of Trap & Bat large – undoubtedly reminiscent of Fetty Wap’s debut’s more soulful deliveries: Remember Again, D.A.M. & Let It Bang? Opening with a string chorus and quickly diving deep into the world of trap-heavy romantic production, Fetty Wap sets himself up perfectly to attempt something new without losing anyone that have found themselves attached to his music before. Black Friday is an addicting, anthemic love song as quintessential to 2020 and the loveable trap lord as Trap Queen was to Fetty Wap and the world in 2015. Stricken with vocal explorations that he’s never fully committed to in the past, it also comfortably weaves into more hip-hop adjacent riffs. The seamlessness between those artistic directions, the relatable thematics, and the stark individuality in his sound at large is the driving force behind Trap & B as an album.
Through seven tracks, nothing is wasted in creativity or differentiation from a previous track. It melts together, sure, but it also shines Fetty Wap underneath myriad lights more transcendent, bright, and innovative than ever before. And that’s saying a lot for an artist that is largely to thank for the world of melodic gangster posturing and hip-hop hardened R&B vocalists in modern music.
Bold take: Trap & B is the first sign that Fetty Wap has found a sound more expressly his and important to his career at large than even that surrounding the pandemonium of his debut. And the reason for it is because, like his debut, but even at a greater scale through less tracks, Trap & B is a demonstration of range drawn akin by romantic emotion that would come across as kitsch from any other rapper; drawn akin by a rapper whose sound would be disingenuine from anyone else. He’s an enigma that has always been about R&B – thematically and artistically – at his core.
Reasons is Trap & B’s second track, and like Black Friday, it rides a high-energy, addicting beat that leaves space for Fetty to experiment even more. And with Reasons, Fetty again explores hyper-romanticism, constantly thanking his significant other for loving him and listing all the reasons why he loves them back. Again, it is driven by melody; and again, it is neither rap nor sung, but somewhere blissfully balanced in between.
From most musicians, the penmanship of it all would be painfully poppy, but at the hands of Fetty Wap, it’s somehow something different. It’s the opposite of ambiguous or forced. It’s genuine and specific, and yet relatable across the spectrum of fans listening because it is so painfully rooted in love and emotion. The same can be said about Questions – a more hip-hop cadenced delivery; about Teach Me – perhaps the most expressly soulful track on the album; about RnB Shit – a track with a title that speaks for its sensually driven direction. By the time Just For You and FWY polish of Trap & B’s entirety, fans are so comfortable with Fetty Waps directions old and new that the two walk the line effortlessly.
If anything need be said about Trap & B, it’s that it walks the line. Fetty Wap has always been a balancing totem between the worlds of hip-hop and R&B, forcing rappers in his wake to utilize their melodic gifts; forcing singers in his wake to explore their cadence shifts. But the line he walks is his alone. Since Fetty Wap dropped in 2015, no one has been able to replicate his sound, and with Trap & B, his irreplaceability and individuality has successfully expanded into altogether untouched territory.
Fetty Wap is back, and we absolutely fuckin’ love it.