One Joint WIth Fetty Wap
As I’m settling into my seat on the tour bus, Fetty Wap comes up from the back to join me, lit joint already in hand. Fetty Wap’s success stems partly from the catchy accessibility of his music, and the proof is in the charts: Wap made history in 2015 with a simultaneous four charting top 10 rap singles, and he was the first act to do so. He’s charming, maybe even a little shy, and given his lyrics [“I’m like, yeah, she’s fine/ Wonder when she’ll be mine/ She walk past, I press rewind/ To see that ass one more time,”] —surprisingly deep. Fetty Wap was born with glaucoma, and lost his left eye at 6 months old as a result —a loss that, along with his sense of family and community, shaped him tremendously decades later.
Alyssa Shapiro: I’ll start. It’s an interview about weed. So we have to talk about weed.
Fetty Wap: That’s awesome. My favorite thing about smoking is the place it puts me in. Some people smoke to smoke, you know what I’m saying. I really smoke because my life changed real fast, and with that I had to find a balanced place. It was either go back to how we used to act, or smoke a lot of weed.
AS: How did you used to act?
FW: Let’s just say that weed worked out for me pretty good because I didn’t get in trouble.
AS: Do you remember the first time you got high?
FW: Of course I remember my first time getting high! I smoked some weed that was called Branson, it’s from New York, and everything was purple. And I felt like I couldn’t walk, and I said I was never going to smoke weed again—until three years later.
[At this point, the first joint has been exhausted, and an attentive friend goes back to roll another.]
AS: Is being high sort of your natural state now?
FW: I probably smoke about like every 30 minutes. Probably more than that. It’s like, not smoking is sort of weird. I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to it but I wouldn’t say I’m not addicted either. I’m addicted to feeling good. I love being happy. That’s real, that’s what it does for me. Yeah, I smoke a lot.
[To the friend:] How the hell’d you roll that that fast?
AS: Obviously you have a lot of tattoos, what does your favorite one mean?
FW: My favorite tattoo is my two crosses right here. It’s actually for my grandfathers. My first one, I got the first one in 2012, that was my first face tattoo. That’s for my grandfather Gene. He died in the year before I was born.
AS: Do you feel especially connected to him?
FW: Yeah. He’s one of my angels. I got the second one after my second grandpa passed, like three years ago. My grandpa passed right before ‘Trap Queen’ blew up [groans from everyone on the bus]. It was one of them moments, like what the fuck, life? Why’d that shit have to happen to me? I can feel him. I know it sounds weird but sometimes I can feel him. Certain smells and certain things.
AS: That doesn’t sound weird at all. What was that time like, and before that? How were you getting into trouble?
FW: It really came from when I was a kid. I was kind of violent. I used to get picked on a lot ’til like fifth grade. I got tired of it, and I snapped. And I started fighting a lot, and broke a lot of bones in my hands and shit, and it wasn’t until when I was a teenager and doing illegal shit, I was 17 and I was making a little bit of money, I stopped caring about how I looked. I just cared about getting money. That was attracting fake love. People wanted to smoke with me, people wanted $20. When I had my son, I stopped being nice to people. That’s when the love stopped. Like, I thought you was my homie and shit.
If you have no love for yourself, nobody else gonna have love for you. That’s when I took out my prosthesis, I was 18 years old, and some people that knew me were like oh shit, why you walking around like that? I was like, “‘Cuz I don’t care no more. This is how I am, this is what I look like. I don’t look like what you thought I looked like. If you don’t like it, oh fuckin’ well.”
During that process, I start to love myself. I liked the way I looked. A year went a past, and it became natural, it became normal. I’d go to the store in my neighborhood, and everybody knew me, like oh shit that’s the dude that got one eye. A year later I started doing music, it just stuck with me. I meet all different types of people. I meet people with prosthetic legs, people in wheelchairs. I actually went to Virginia to meet this little boy that had cancer, and right before I left I gave him one of my chains, and I was about to come back later to say hi, and he had passed away already. But before I left, he was happy as hell. He couldn’t stop smiling. That’s one of my biggest things: I always try to show love. I got to show love, but I don’t never show too much to the people who I don’t think are going to show it back.
AS: Through that process, what has stuck with you the most?
FW: My son used to always say when he was little, “Dad why don’t I have one eye like you? I want to look like you.” That was a confidence booster to me. There are people that want to look like me. I always try to tell people, if you don’t got no love for yourself, you’re not going to get nowhere in life. You’re going to be stuck where you’re at forever, because you’re going to be searching for something that you got to bring out. You can’t find something that’s not already there. That’s how I feel I became so successful. Because I just love everything [laughs].