Fetty Wap may look great in a suit, but he hates wearing one. When he was 17, his mother told him about a high-paying job. The interview required a corporate appearance. He shaved off two years’ worth of dreadlocks, put on a suit, and showed up for the meeting, only to find that the position had already been filled. A sartorial trauma was born. “Suits aren’t my type of style yet,” the 25-year-old admits. “I’m still not ready for all that.”
These days, he can wear whatever he wants. “Trap Queen,” the debut single by the Paterson, New Jersey, rapper (born Willie Maxwell II), recently went platinum. Though widely understood as an unconventional love song about dealing drugs with your significant other, that’s not quite it. “The song doesn’t have anything to do with love, really,” Fetty explains. “Trap Queen” is actually a semiautobiographical track about a girl he met who wanted in on his already booming drug business. “She learned how to cook crack, and she kind of did it so good that she made enough for the both of us,” he says. “She knew how to stretch that shit.” The song hints that doubling their efforts will keep the money flowing. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, babe, I love you, let’s work for this,’ ” he clarifies. “No, we’re about to go break the law, and we’re gonna have some fun.”
Fortunately, Fetty has since found another method of supporting himself. The song changed everything for the father of two (a four-year-old son and newborn daughter). “Once the music started doing good, I didn’t have to look for a way to provide for my kids,” he says. “This might be my chance to better my son’s and my daughter’s future.” Balancing fatherhood with his new life is still a work in progress, as Wap’s rigorous travel schedule coupled with studio sessions has limited his parenting time. “It bothers me,” he admits. “Not all the negativity, not the one-hit-wonder talk—that’s the only thing that actually bothers me.”
While the upstart still has a Paterson zip code, he has another place a few towns over, in Hackensack, that doubles as a gigantic walk-in closet. One room is entirely filled with Jordans— a fetish he adopted while selling mixtapes on street corners. Any extra income from those sales went straight to his sneaker habit. Now he buys a pair a day. “People are getting shot over these,” he says, running a hand over his Air Jordan XI’s, a.k.a. “Space Jams.” In his bedroom is an extensive collection of Robin’s Jeans, straight from the factory. “I like mine with different-colored zippers,” he says of his exclusive denim. Collaborating with their designer, Robin Chretien, is the next item on his career bucket list, and Fetty is slowly becoming a fixture in the company’s New York City offices.
Flashy purchases aside, Fetty Wap is one of hip-hop’s humblest characters. When cable network Music Choice gave him the MC100 Award, he cried on-air because it was his very first award. He has a special phone that never leaves his house that still holds his first texts from Kanye West (who invited him to perform at the Roc City Classic show) and Drake (who appears on his single “My Way”). As a child, he developed congenital glaucoma and lost an eye (he wears a prosthesis), and though he suffered in his younger years, his fans have found him a source of inspiration.
That childhood setback has been beneficial in other ways. It taught him to be grateful for the successes life brings him and take nothing for granted. “You never know what could happen, and personally, I don’t care,” he says. “I just want to get up in here, get this money so that my family can live good, and if the music don’t work out for me, nobody can’t say I never tried.”
Don't forget to pick up your copy of Maxim's "Legit" September Fashion Issue featuring Fetty Wap and cover star Idris Elba.
Photos by Thomas Goldblum