'Trap Queen' Rapper Fetty Wap: 'I'ma Be the Youngest Rapper With One Eye, But a Lot of Money'

fetty wap 2015
Clive Srail

Rapper Fetty Wap took a chance by singing on his breakout hit "Trap Queen," and it paid off. Over the past few months, the 24-year-old went from being a relatively unknown MC to scoring a smash single on the Billboard Hot 100 (No. 16 on this week's chart), earning co-signs from stars like Rihanna and Kanye West, the latter of whom brought him out during a performance in New York City on Feb. 12. With his Fetty Wap: The Mixtape on the way, the Paterson, N.J., native speaks on the success of "Trap Queen," how he doesn't really care much for lyrics and how a childhood accident affected vision in his eye.

What was the recording process like for "Trap Queen"? 

It was in, I want to say probably November or December 2013. And the day I laid it in the studio, I can't remember exactly what day, but I just know it was in March, the energy was just so high. The day before, I was just letting them hear how I was coming up with -- like I never came up with nothing, I just had melody in my head and I just knew how I wanted to do it. Once I listened to it a couple of times I just went in.

When you were done with it initially, did you know that this is going to be a special record, or was it sort of like one of many? Like, that one is cool, but we got a lot of cool records...

Nah, I was the one that knew it was going to be a hit. I told everybody even before I recorded it in the studio that I knew it was going to be a hit. Just the vibe I got from the beat, it was just different.

How did you develop your sound?

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I think I developed it over time, just staying in the studio and trying to outdo myself and keeping the people that's around me to help me go harder and help me come up with different melodies or different ways to say things or different flows. That's just basically how I do it.

What about musically? Who was influential in that regard?

That's just my sound. Don't nobody sound like that. That's just what I came up with. When I heard the beat, that's the melody I came up with and I just did it exactly how I wanted it to sound.

How old were you when you first started making music?

I first started doing music only like two years ago. I'm not really into the whole lyrics thing, I just like to make music that people like to listen to. I don't concept all of my music on one thing. It takes a lot of people hours to make music because they focus so much on one thing. I just do it and I make something you can just vibe to. I feel like when it's time for me to make, like, better lyrics and give people stories or whatever, I'll know when it's time for that. But right now what I'm doing is working for me. 

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And that is making music to make people feel good, to party to, to turn up to...

Yeah, basically, like, turn-up music. I make a couple of trap music songs for the dudes who like to listen to the trap music and I make the turn-up music for females who like to turn up. I try to keep it versatile and everybody loves it so far.

Do you recall the first track you ever recorded?

The first song I did was over a Chief Keef beat -- "Understand Me." I did that in like 2011 or 2012, I think. The first time I ever started rapping. After I did that I started -- the studios were just different. I did that song and I ain't really like how it sounded too much. I was with Montana Buckz, one of the Remy Boyz, and he introduced me to the engineer I got now. So ever since then it's just been different. He's been helping me out with my voice and showing me different things.

At what point did singing come in?

When I made "Trap Queen." 

Were you nervous about it? Singing is a bit more vulnerable than rapping.

Nah, I wouldn't say I was nervous. I was anxious to do it, really. I just wanted to do something different. Everybody was rapping. Everybody wants to be a rapper so I did something different. I started singing. But I ain't want to be a singer, so I did my own thing. Melodies -- I don't really know how to put it. I just do the Fetty Wap.

One doesn't become a trap queen overnight. What qualities do you look for initially?

I mean, uh, the PG way, she just gotta hold you down. She gotta be there when you need her, and vice versa. As long as she knows how to make her own money without always needing you. As long as she got you and you got her, that's the trap queen. 

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What's the rated R answer?

[Laughs] She gotta know how to cook. She gotta know how to wrap them things and send them things. Nah, she just gotta understand everything ain't all good even when it seems all good. As long as she ain't gonna rat you out and she's gonna hold you down, she ain't gotta necessarily do no bid for you, because if you're a man, you gonna do that bid for yourself. So you just gotta be smart and pick and choose wisely. Everybody got different qualities. My whole thing is loyalty. Loyalty over royalty, word is bond.

So when you made this record you were dating someone at the time and they sort of inspired you. How did she feel about it?

Honestly, at the time she wasn't really too worried about the record; we were worried about money. We rolled backwoods -- that's my baby. We rolled up, we hit the strip club, she'd throw money with me, we hit the block. That's just how we'd do, it's regular. Nothing too extra.

What's one thing that you wouldn't necessarily do with your trap queen?

Bring her to all my shows. [Laughs] Gotta leave her home. She can't come everywhere.   

You've spoken about having an accident as a kid and that caused congenital glaucoma in your eye. What kind of accident was?

Honestly, I really don't know. I was little. I can't really remember. After the accident I was in the hospital for a little while, like, six or seven months. So I can't really remember that good. I never really asked because it's something I really -- that already happened so I don't want to revisit it. I don't really care about it.

You've lived with it most of your life, so you seem really comfortable about it.

Yeah. I mean, it doesn't bother me. Of course people that are not used to seeing people like this it's going to scare them a little bit. Or some people got weak stomachs. Everybody is different. The people that are around me accept it. I'm regular to them. So if I'm regular to them, I'm regular to everybody else. It just takes them a little while longer for them to kick in.

If you want to talk about legendary rappers: Slick Rick, with the eyepatch. Had you ever thought about doing something like that?

Nah. Honestly when I think about what people think, I just look at it like this: I'ma be probably the youngest rapper with one eye, but a lot of money. I'd just rather count the money instead. 

You're prepping the release of Fetty Wap: The Mixtape. When can we expect it?

It was supposed to be out February 12, honestly. I just kept going to the studio and kept making more songs. In my sessions, I probably honestly make, like, six or seven songs a session. So by the time I get done for the week I have a whole 'nother mixtape. So now they're kind of like locking me down, like, relax in the studio, you're going too much. Honestly, man, I just don't never stop working. So whenever they figure out what they want to do, I'm just gon' drop it. I'm not really in no rush. 

An edited version of this article will appear in the March 14 issue of Billboard.