When: Wed., Feb. 17, 6 p.m. 2016
After midnight on a Sunday in early August I found myself sharing a Red Line car with a skinny black teenager dressed entirely in white, blasting Fetty Wap’s sublime singles on an oversize speaker jutting out of his backpack. Standing by one of the train’s entrances, the teen fiddled with his bleached, tightly wound dreads and held his phone aloft while occasionally mumbling along with the rapper-singer’s cascading vocals on the irresistible “My Way.” Of all the experiences I’ve had on public transit, few have been quite as compelling and cool, and that says as much about the kid as it does about the music. In 2015 no other pop artist instantly transformed the room like Fetty Wap, an unexpected hit maker from New Jersey who sings like he’s from the Caribbean but is unabashedly himself. His missing left eye, which he lost to congenital glaucoma as a kid, became as much a topic of conversation as his music, and he talks about his vision with the same openness he expresses in song. His first four singles, all of which are featured on his 2015 self-titled debut for 300 Entertainment, held spots in the top ten of Billboard’s Hot Rap Songs chart at the same time—a first for a breakout act’s debut singles—and the irresistible, romantic “Trap Queen” held court last summer. Today the single is less omnipresent, and my reflex to play it on repeat has slackened, but that’s only made it easier to get addicted to other portions of Fetty. The yearning, winsome single “Again” and dissolving vocal hook of “Jugg” are welcome additions to otherwise mundane daily routines, like taking a ride on the CTA, for instance.