“Trap Queen,” first uploaded to SoundCloud last April by 25-year-old Willie Maxwell (also known as Fetty Wap), has been the song of the summer, fall, winter, spring, and summer again at this point. The tune may be an unconventional love song — he recently told Maxim that it’s about a girlfriend who “learned how to cook crack, and she kind of did it so good that she made enough for the both of us. She knew how to stretch that shit …” — but it established him as an artist who can be gritty and emotional. The Cut spoke with Fetty Wap about women, positive energies, and his beloved Space Jam sneakers.
You write a lot of songs about women. Is that intentional?
Most of my songs are about one person in particular. I guess it’s just what I be going through. [“Trap Queen”] is about how what I really be wanting is loyalty. The person I was dealing with at the time, she kind of just showed me a different side of women. She still to this day supports me and buys all my songs on iTunes, she still shows me loyalty, the same loyalty before everybody knew who I was. That’s where I get my inspirations and my motivation from for most of my songs and the meanings behind them.
How do you feel about bringing the term “Trap Queen” to the mainstream,when a lot of the people singing the lyrics don’t know what they mean? Everybody doesn’t have the same trap queen. Everyone can have their own trap queen. There is the way I use it in the song, but my mom is a trap queen. She held us down and she was a queen at doing it. She took care of her children and her tribe, made sure we had food on the table, and kept our heads up. However you want to put it, there are different meanings to it.
Do you worry about being a one-hit wonder?
I’m not here just to be Fetty Wap, the artist that went platinum off of “Trap Queen,” and then nobody knew what happened. Right now, I have three songs on the [Billboard charts] and I have another one that’s about to come really soon. I just try to keep doing music and let them know that I’m here and I’m relevant. I’m not one of those artists who is trying to get a couple of dollars and get up out of here. I’m not in it for the money — this is what I do. I don’t know how to do anything other than make music. Other than my past life, this is it. My fans that were rocking with me before the world knew Fetty Wap, they like to hear new music so I keep giving it to them. I have a lot of music, I can drop a song every day until my mixtape comes out and you won’t hear the same songs on my mixtape.
So you plan to stick around — what do you do to stay grounded?
I just keep everybody around me. My auntie, Shauna, RGF, the people I started with, I’m still with them. Nothing has really changed for me. People don’t understand that when I say it because everybody is from the outside looking in. It’s like I wake up and I still do what I love to do every day. It’s work now but I can still have fun. I don’t look at this as a job, like a nine-to-five, “I have to go clock in,” or anything like that. It’s like, “Yo, where you at? Come to the game, you gotta go to the studio or you’re not going to make no money.” That’s how my day is. I still get to work with the people I love to be with. I just feel regular, I don’t feel like how everyone is making me out to be. Everyone is making me out to be this superstar artist, and I don’t feel like that. People walk past me every day, and they do a double take, like, “Is that him?” and sometimes I be like, “No, I’m not him” [laughs]. I still feel regular.
Well, you were wearing a suit in Maxim …
That was different, really, really different. I didn’t like it at all — I’m not a fan of suits. But, I did enjoy the experience. The whole suit thing probably won’t happen again.
What’s your favorite thing in your closet right now?
My Space Jam 11s. I had to search for them for a little bit. Everybody has the newer ones. I like the older ones that you can’t really wear, they look like they are about to fall apart. Those have the most meaning to me. I remember when I wanted them and I couldn’t get them. I have new ones that I can wear, but there’s nothing like the classic ones.
Your dreads are a big part of your look — and I read that you researched where they came from. Why do that?
I believe in bad energy. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s like I don’t want to be attached to bad energies because I’m not about that. I don’t try to support bad energies, I don’t make the best positive songs but I’m not a negative person. I don’t want to tie negativity to me. Where I come from there’s negativity, and I’m trying to get away from that all the way.
You really don’t care what people think. Is not wearing a prosthetic eye part of that?
I used to wear the prosthetic eye when I was little to look normal, or what other people thought normal was. It was really when I started making music that I stopped wearing it. People around my city just started getting used to it, and I just started to be myself. I started to feel regular and like I didn’t have to turn my face to take a picture because I didn’t like how I looked. I could look straight into the camera. Every little insecurity I had was gone because I didn’t have to try to look a certain way. This is the way I look and I feel comfortable with it. People still talk about it on Instagram and social media, it’s crazy, but you just have to rise above it. You can’t be a “star” if you’re still going to let people get to you. You can’t be the boss at your job and let people get under your skin.
This interview has been edited and condensed.