One Hell of a Nite: Behind the Scenes at Fetty Wap's Biggest Show Yet
He's talking about "679," the Remy Boyz posse cut that marks Fetty's third Hot 100 entry this year (it's currently at No. 16 and rising) -- apparently, the beat was half-done when the rapper heard it and insisted on laying down a verse and it was still rough when he dropped it to SoundCloud (without telling Garcia).
It's easy to forgive the New Jersey MC's blustering enthusiasm, though. His golden touch has now yielded three hit singles in the space of six months -- a fourth, the just-officially-released "Again," is a heart-wrenching, dancefloor-ready love song (very much inspired by true events, per Garcia) unlikely to break Fetty's chart-dominating streak. His success has earned him an opening slot on fellow chart magician Chris Brown's One Hell of a Nite Tour, his first national gig. To celebrate, the head honchos at his label, 300 Entertainment, flew down to Kansas City for the tour's first stop. Aside from guest appearances for Taylor Swift and Kanye West and an aborted Summer Jam set, it's Fetty Wap's biggest show to date.
Arriving with 300 founders Lyor Cohen, Kevin Liles and Todd Moscovitz (collectively responsible for signing most of your favorite rappers) in KC's Sprint Center, we're greeted by Zoo Gang members zooming around the arena's backstage on Hovertrax, fitting right in with the natives in matching Royals gear (the game was on every backstage TV).
Fetty's dressing room, smoky enough to raise questions about a possible fog machine, is full of Remy Boyz swilling a passed bottle of their signature Remy Martin 1738 -- but business still comes first. "I don't feel like an artist around y'all," the rapper tells Moscowitz deferentially, demanding that his crew "put the weed and all that shit down" for a group picture.
"Can somebody help me find my sneakers?" a shoeless Remy Boy asks frantically as showtime approaches. Fetty adds his own Royals jersey and diamond-encrusted cuffs to complete his onstage ensemble, retreating to a corner to collect himself before heading out to meet the crowd. An arena full of Chris Brown fans awaits him, already dancing vigorously to Bobby Shmurda -- an artist whose summerlong lifespan Fetty is working overtime to surpass.
The DJ drops the rapper's signature bird call and the crowd squeals on cue, welcoming a grinning Fetty Wap onstage for a Drake-less rendition of "My Way." Monty joins him, and along with onstage wingman Mike Goon, the trio bounces around the stage as if their lives depend on it, their dreads waving as they headbang in unison.
Not many artists who play first on the bill can get away with an only-the-hits set, but per usual, Fetty is the exception that proves the rule. With his onstage support reduced by about 15 people, he runs through a quick set of his four singles, with the crowd of thousands singing every word. Fetty never stops smiling, radiant with the complete and total glee of a guy on a seemingly endless come-up, who's gotten to bring all his friends with him.
"In interviews, people always ask me how it feels to be here," he tells the crowd before finishing his set with "Trap Queen." "All I can say is: Last year, I didn't have an address. This year, I have five addresses."
"If is wasn't for y'all," he adds, "I wouldn't have no address."
Fetty's biggest hit (dedicated, of course, to all the trap queens in the building) marks the final moment of celebration, as he, still looking happily surprised, leads the Sprint Center in a flawless a cappella version of the song's final verse and chorus. Walking offstage, the permanently winking rapper turns to give the desperately screaming teens a wave.
Backstage he pays a visit to the evening's king Chris Brown, clad (improbably or probably, depending on your knowledge of his fashion history) in a pink plaid baseball cap and denim vest. Together with French Montana, the trio briefly discusses their investments in New Jersey real estate in the door of Brown's dressing room.
Fetty, clearly drained by the 15-minute set, still has a radio meet-and-greet -- mostly populated by people in club-ready dresses and (more) Royals gear. But one young woman, sporting a tie-dye jersey and a buzzcut, stands out. After the room is cleared of eager fans, Fetty mysteriously tells his manager to call her back in, taking the time to pose for an individual photo and thank her personally for coming out. Why? Visibly moved, he shows us the two bracelets she had given him -- marks of the two times she had beaten cancer.
Fetty Wap's endearing mix of debauchery and earnestness is infectious, spreading to both audience and crew. "No way -- we don't need to be greedy," Mike Goon says when asked if the group could get a Remy Martin endorsement deal (after all, 1738 is something of a lifestyle at this point). "This is our motivation," he adds, holding up the mostly empty bottle, which had been split among the whole Zoo Gang. "This is where we got started."