“1738!” “Yeah, baby!” “Remy Boyz!” These just are a few of the catchphrases used by Fetty Wap, whose self-titled album has contributed to the soundtracks for countless parties since 2015. We could delve into the meaning and etymology of each of these exclamations, but that’s beside the point. They matter because they give Fetty Wap a brand—a unique image that distinguishes him from other artists making similar music. Because he’s so instantly recognizable, he’s kind of like a wildly popular character in a larger-than-life hip-hop TV show—and by singing along to his music, fans can enter his world. This world was alive and breathing on January 13th at The Fillmore Silver Spring.
The majority of attendees at the venue were high school or college kids enjoying the weekend, some of them still on winter break. Most had arrived with friends. This seemed apropos, as Fetty constantly emphasizes the importance of celebrating with “the squad.” Fetty has always made sure to show his appreciation for the artists from RGF Productions, which he is strongly affiliated with. In fact, he has even dedicated a song to them: “RGF Island,” in which he imagines throwing them all a house party in paradise and repeats, “I do this for my squad; I do this for my gang.” At the Fillmore, it was clear that Fetty really means what he says. The first portion of his show featured a rotating cast of RGF artists like rapper M-80, R&B singer B’iousha, and hip-hop duo Guwii Kidz, sharing the stage with Baltimore County group Creek Boyz. Regardless of whether they were official members of Fetty’s Zoo Gang collective or not, all of them radiated confidence and style.
The Zoo Gang and friends didn’t just perform original music—they also sang along to current hits like A$AP Ferg’s “Plain Jane” and Travis Scott’s “Bank Account,” easing the crowd into the party mindset. On top of that, they served as a sort of hype crew for Fetty, energetically tossing out Zoo Gang merch. And indeed, the fans did get hyped. A few got kicked out of the venue: some for smoking marijuana; another for hopping over the barricade and excitedly running back and forth in his newly acquired ZG tee. There were also many wholesome moments of enthusiasm, though. For example, the performers shouted out things like “Who here was born and raised in the DMV?”, attuned to the local slang for the DC/Maryland/Virginia area, and the crowd cheered, proudly united. Other shouts included “Put your middle fingers up for Donald Trump!” and “Raise your hand if you’re making more than minimum wage!” The show was established as an environment where shame had no place; it was a designated celebration.
When Fetty Wap came onstage, accompanied by his loyal friend and sidekick Remy Boy Monty (who features in 9/20 of the songs on Fetty’s first album), the mood was boosted even more. He began with songs like the aforementioned “RGF Island” and “D.A.M.,” two small bursts of positivity—the first centered around friends, and the second centered around a love interest. As the night went on, he sang every one of his major hits, providing the crowd with plenty of opportunities to sing along or nod their heads to a familiar beat. He sang excerpts from some popular songs that have featured his vocals, such as Lil Dicky’s “Save Dat Money” and Fifth Harmony’s “Flex (All In My Head).” The whole time, he made sure to engage with the fans. At one point, he grabbed a girl’s phone and filmed a video on it, selfie-style. When other fans held out their phones, clamoring for his attention, he patiently grabbed those, too, making sure that each one had a nice souvenir from the night. Nothing about it seemed rehearsed or cocky; it was just a fun interaction making the wall between performer and audience a little less rigid.
The fans’ fervor truly reached another level when Fetty began to sing “My Way,” one of his most popular hits. During this song, he signed a t-shirt and tossed it to my side of the barricade. Mere seconds after it landed it my hands by chance, a few nearby fans reached out and grabbed different corners of fabric. Soon, I was witnessing a scuffle that involved a woman yelling “Fetty is my husband in real life!” many times at the top of her lungs. Eventually, the crowd got so rowdy that a security guard had to take the shirt away. There’s no doubt that Fetty has some passionate followers, for sure.
Despite that episode, the night continued smoothly, with the vast majority of fans expressing their admiration for Fetty in a prosocial manner. The biggest crowd pleasers were “Again,” “679,” and “Trap Queen,” all of which brought Fetty major chart success. It’s true that Fetty Wap’s music was meant to be blasted at parties, not meticulously analyzed. Yet he’s written his fair share of lyrics that stick out as memorable, capturing a lighthearted ethos that’s hard for his young fans to resist. “Trap Queen,” in particular, has a lot of these. “I’m like, ‘Hey, what’s up, hello’” is catchy with its casual air; “Everybody hatin’; we just call ‘em fans, though” is motivational; the song’s chorus, which sets Fetty and his girl beside each other instead of putting one above the other, is oddly sweet. As Fetty sang these catchphrases, it was clear that his talent isn’t just a radio trick.
Ultimately, what I’ll remember most from Fetty Wap’s concert was the happiness he radiated throughout the night. Going to a lot of concerts, you see certain smiles frequently, such as the practiced smile of a charming band member trying to win over new fans or the awed smile of a musician who just can’t believe the size of his audience. Fetty’s smile wasn’t quite either of those. Instead, it was the genuine smile of someone having a carefree good time surrounded by his favorite people—the same exact smile many people in the crowd were wearing, full of eagerness and exhilaration.