Photography: Christian Cody
Anyone with a phone knows the name Fetty Wap. But what they might not know about the 26-year-old rapper, is the fact that he doesn’t like to play by the rules. Case in point, his latest collaboration with Los Angeles-based electronic outfit Cheat Codes. While on the surface he may not appear to have much in common with the trio, there’s a lot more similarities between them than just the fact they all like to smoke weed – and a lot of it. A sunny and almost annoyingly perfect pop banger, “Feels Great” shows how all four of them won’t be boxed in by anyone, including themselves.
BlackBook caught up with Fetty and Cheat Codes following their collab, and just in time for the weekend. The boys sounded off on Michael Jordan, marijuana and making music.
BlackBook: You guys collaborated on ‘Feels Great’ a couple months ago. Tell me about the track.
Matt: What was your first impression when you heard the track? As a whole, I think the track is really different than anything you’ve worked on before.
Fetty: Yeah it was a really big difference for me, but I enjoy being challenged. Immediately, when I heard the song, I just thought it had such good vibes. At first, I didn’t even listen to the lyrics – I just focused on the melody and the production. Melody is really the biggest thing for me, anyway. And the melody just really caught my attention – that and the energy of the track.
Trevor: So it literally felt great. That’s perfect.
BlackBook: How was it for you guys to work together?
Fetty: Well, we had met before we worked on the song. So it was all just really chill. Plus, we smoked weed together, and when you smoke weed, everything good happens.
Matt: We’d also always wanted to collaborate with Fetty. So, when this song came along, we immediately thought he’d be great. He just has such good vibes and we always see him smiling, and that’s really how we felt about the song. Then the fact that he actually liked it and wanted to do it – that was just perfect for us.
Trevor: We’re also used to working as producers and songwriters. Even when we work with other artists, we always try to have, like, 90 percent of the track done, so they can just kind of come in and put on the finishing touches. But with Fetty, we sent him the record and he completely did his own part. So, it was really cool to have him bring something totally new and unexpected to the track.
Matt: Yeah, when we did the video together you told us a little about the verse you wrote. What was the story behind it?
Fetty: When I first started listening to the lyrics, my interpretation of this song was kind of like, ‘Okay, this is something that I’ve been through,’ but with a totally different attitude. You know, my background – I’m from the hood. So doing this track and having such a positive spin is something that people probably wouldn’t expect from me. I started thinking about my girlfriend when she was in high school and how no one used to really look at her or talk to her. But then of course, I became Fetty Wap, and she got older and matured, and all of the sudden people liked her and she was so beautiful. So, I used her for my interpretation of the song – that was the idea I pulled from.
Kevin: I’ve always wondered how you got into the rap game. Was it in high school? Or how did you get into music?
Fetty: I actually got into music because of Remy Boyz’ Monty. Everybody knows our song “My Way” that we did together. But Monty was really the one who pushed me to pursue music because it’s really his first love, and he showed me how much I love music and how much I really love to make music – every part of it. He’s the real inspiration for me being Fetty Wap.
Matt: Shout out Monty!
Trevor: He’s the man.
Fetty: But what about you guys?
Trevor: For me, I started writing songs when I was probably 12. My dad actually played guitar and he would always play us songs that he wrote, so I was always around that. Then I just started writing and recording in my bedroom, and dropped out of school when I was 16 to try and really pursue it. It was kind of like, ‘If I’m going to do music, I’m going to really do it.’ So, that’s exactly what happened.
Kevin: My uncle was in Sugar Ray actually, and my brother was in a big rock band back in the day, so I also grew up around it and it was something I always wanted to do.
Matt: It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly when I got into music, but I was always doing it in school, like band and choir and all that stuff. Eventually, I was kind of just like, ‘I don’t want to do choir, I want be in a cool rock band and make cool music.’ So, in high school that’s what I was doing: playing rock ‘n’ roll in my basement. Then I moved to L.A. and met these guys and we started making electronic music because honestly, we all just get really bored really fast. So, we wanted to be able to make the kind of music that we could switch up whenever we wanted, making tracks with a pop star like Demi Lovato and then do a song with a dope rapper like Fetty Wap. I swear I have A.D.D. or something. But that was really the goal behind this project.
Fetty: What’s your biggest inspiration when you’re writing?
Matt: For me, it’s weed.
Fetty: I definitely agree with that 100%.
Trevor: I’m just always so excited about the idea of moving culture forward. I honestly can’t think of anything better than when I hear something that sounds like it’s never been done before. I really don’t even care if it ends up flopping or if people hate it because the risk is worth it for me. I want to be on that record that’s changing things and changing music. If I’m just doing the same thing other people have done for years and years, it’s not really worth it for me. So, that’s what really inspires me and makes me want to create. Well, that and weed.
Kevin: I just like being in the studio or in my room writing music. I mean, of course I love performing but my favorite part is just being by myself or with the guys and being creative.
Trevor: Fetty, what was the first tattoo you got?
Fetty: My first tattoo? I believe I was – I don’t want to get my mom in trouble, so I’m just going to say I was 17. It’s a T, a star and an F on my left forearm, which stands for ‘Team Fam,’ which was a sports thing that every kid had to do in my neighborhood, and my friends and I, we had our own little crew. My favorite tattoo though, is my Michael Jordan tattoo on my leg. I was supposed to get his jersey tattooed on my leg, but it hurt so bad, I only got his name.
Trevor: I just got a neck tattoo the other day and that really hurt.
Trevor: Wait, so you’re into basketball?
Fetty: Actually, football is my favorite sport. But my mom kind of cut my football career short because she was so scared I’d get hurt.
BlackBook: I’m curious if you guys think your personas onstage are really different from who you are IRL. Like, is Fetty Wap a character? Or is that who you are all the time?
Fetty: Fetty Wap is just a brand name. When I’m home, I’m just Willie. A lot of people think I am who I am onstage – like when I’m performing, I’m really aggressive – but I’m not like that at all. Except when I’m in California. When I’m in California, I’m Fetty Wap all day.
Matt: I think we’re all the same, except maybe our personalities are a little exaggerated when we’re playing.
BlackBook: With social media, though, do you feel like you have to be ‘on’ all the time?
Trevor: I don’t know any other way to be. I grew up in the social media age, so I’m just used to it.
Kevin: I also think as long as you don’t take anything or yourself too seriously, it all ends up working out.
BlackBook: Do you see similarities between rap and electronic music?
Matt: The main thing that’s probably the most obvious is the fact that it just makes people feel good, you know? People want to go out on the weekends and have fun when they hit the club. That’s why you want to make records that people can enjoy.
Fetty: Real energy and authenticity always provides the best outcome, you know what I’m saying? And I like to do different things. I don’t even consider myself a rap artist, you know? I’m just an artist because I like testing limits and I don’t like boxing myself into any one thing. So, even with ‘Feels Great,’ it was like, ‘Okay here’s a new opportunity for you to do something you haven’t done before, and try out a new genre.’ I’m never going to say no to expanding my music in a positive setting. I don’t only want to be a rapper – I don’t only ever want to be one thing.
BlackBook: What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t an artist?
Trevor: I’d definitely be in the NBA.
Fetty: I don’t even think I can answer that question, because I don’t know what the hell I’d be doing. My music is just part of who I am. Or maybe I’d be a doctor or something.