The person appeared nearly too good to be true.
In Paterson, one of many poorest cities in America, a suddenly-rich, home-grown pop star stepped ahead as a group philanthropist.
Such was the picture that the rapper with the stage title “Fetty Wap” wished to venture.
At this time we all know that picture was a lie. Fetty Wap, now 31, was dwelling a double life that mirrored his twin names — Fetty Wap, the rapper-turned-do-good-community-activist, and Willie Junior Maxwell II, Fetty Wap’s authorized title, a drug vendor now heading to a federal jail.
The downfall of Fetty Wap is a tragedy on many ranges — for him, for his household, for many who believed in his sincerity and, finally, for town he referred to as dwelling. However extra broadly, that is additionally a narrative of how our tradition all too simply embraces superstar, no questions requested.
To grasp this arc of disappointment, let’s flip again the clock.
‘In love with the cash’
In 2014, Maxwell, beneath the title Fetty Wap, scored a significant rap hit with “Lure Queen,” a track through which he rapped about promoting medication and shopping for a Ferrari and a Lamborghini.
“In love with the cash,” Fetty Wap sang. “I ain’t by no means lettin’ go.”
The track was nominated for a Grammy and received awards from MTV, BET and Billboard. In a evaluate, The New York Occasions praised “Lure Queen” as “Shimmering and yelping and borderline whimsical.”
By the tip of the summer time of 2015, with “Lure Queen” nonetheless on the prime of the charts, Fetty Wap introduced he would play a free live performance for Paterson college students and provides away backpacks and iPads.
“With out Paterson I would not be Fetty Wap,” he introduced — an understatement if ever there was one.
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Paterson Mayor Joey Torres, who would find yourself in jail for illegally ordering metropolis workers to renovate a warehouse owned by his relations, referred to as Fetty Wap’s live performance a “homecoming welcoming social gathering” and “a real rags-to-riches story, a gentleman who by no means overpassed what he wished to do in life, and persevered.”
Torres’ reward was one more understatement. However such was the beginning of the love affair between Paterson and Fetty Wap.
Over the subsequent three years, Fetty Wap offered himself as one thing of a civic savior, to not point out a rising music star. His face appeared in a automobile racing online game. He strutted down a runway throughout New York Metropolis’s Vogue Week. Paterson and different communities in New Jersey and New York rolled out the welcome mat.
Just a few months after the free live performance, which included members of two of Paterson’s most violent gangs pleading a truce and sitting collectively, Fetty Wap gave away a number of hundred free Thanksgiving turkeys to metropolis residents. Three days earlier, he appeared on a balcony on the Westfield Backyard State Plaza mall in Paramus and tossed $2,000 to buyers.
In September 2017, Fetty Wap confirmed up in Hackensack, making a gift of money to children on the road. The TMZ tabloid-like digital video platform referred to as him “Summer season Santa Claus.”
Six months later, Fetty Wap, who dropped out of Paterson’s Eastside Excessive Faculty and says his household was pressured to depend on meals stamps throughout his youth within the metropolis, was being in comparison with the Easter Bunny after he handed out reward playing cards to metropolis residents simply in time for them to purchase new outfits and meals for the Easter vacation.
“Something I can do to assist particularly with my hometown I’ll all the time be there,” he advised NorthJersey.com. “Coming from not having something to with the ability to do much more than what I did rising up to have the ability to stay a unique way of life, it type of actually empowered me to assist as many individuals as I may.”
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The reward card handouts even propelled Fetty Wap to a spot in celebrity-media nirvana. The New York Publish’s Web page Six canonized him by declaring that he “is not any stranger to giving again.”
Every little thing was not so rosy, nonetheless. Certainly, some troubling indicators about Fetty Wap additionally surfaced.
In November 2017, Fetty Wap was charged with drunken driving and drag racing on a freeway in Brooklyn. Two years later, in Las Vegas, he was arrested on a cost of punching a lodge safety officer. A Las Vegas choose later agreed to drop the cost if Fetty Wap stayed out of bother.
In the meantime, there have been lingering considerations, voiced by Paterson educators and others, that Fetty Wap’s songs contained far too many references to medication. And, lastly, there was the not-so-small private information that Fetty Wap fathered six youngsters over seven years with six totally different ladies.
Irrespective of. If the person confirmed up with cash and items, why ought to anybody complain?
Final October, nonetheless, Fetty Wap’s superstar run got here to an finish. As he was about to take the stage at Citi Area in Queens for a music competition, FBI brokers arrested him, charging him with being a part of a Lengthy Island-based conspiracy to smuggle massive quantities of heroin, fentanyl and different medication into the New York Metropolis space.
Did this scheme embrace passing medication on to sellers in Paterson? Federal prosecutors didn’t particularly say, solely noting in courtroom that Fetty Wap helped to distribute “effectively in extra” of 500 grams of cocaine in New Jersey.
The irony right here is as apparent and ugly because the cracks on Paterson’s imply streets. Right here was the alleged philanthropist, who offered himself as wanting to assist folks in want, now in handcuffs and charged with pushing the varieties of gear that left behind a path of hardship and loss of life.
Fetty Wap was launched on $500,000 bail. However earlier this month, after he allegedly pointed a gun and threatened to kill one other man throughout a FaceTime name, a federal choose revoked his bail and despatched him again to jail to await the end result of his trial.
Fetty Wap will not be going to trial, nonetheless. Earlier this week, he pleaded responsible to essentially the most critical cost towards him: conspiracy to distribute and possess managed substances.
The plea settlement focuses solely on cocaine and never heroin or fentanyl, however it carries a compulsory minimal sentence of 5 years in federal jail, with a most of 40 years. As dangerous as that’s, it may have been worse. Fetty Wap’s request for forgiveness allowed him to keep away from a possible life sentence if he had been convicted on all costs he confronted.
Standing earlier than a federal Justice of the Peace choose in West Islip, New York, Fetty Wap declared that he “agreed with different folks to distribute cocaine” and that he “knew the conduct was unlawful.” Prosecutors stated Fetty Wap waived his proper to enchantment so long as he was sentenced to 10 years and one month or much less.
In different phrases, Fetty Wap goes to jail for a major variety of years, forsaking his false legacy and the kids he fathered. His music profession, such because it was, is basically over.
On the streets of Paterson, there have been no memorials, no gatherings of followers to lament the lack of their rap equal of the Pied Piper who got here to city with provides of free concert events, free turkeys and different items.
In courtroom, after pleading responsible beneath the title Willie Junior Maxwell II, Fetty Wap turned to a small cadre of supporters earlier than heading again to his jail cell to await sentencing in a number of months.
“I like you,” he stated.
Possibly he meant it. Possibly not. This was, in any case, Fetty Wap. He appeared too good to be true.
Mike Kelly is an award-winning columnist for NorthJersey.com in addition to the creator of three critically acclaimed non-fiction books and a podcast and documentary movie producer. To get limitless entry to his insightful ideas on how we stay life in New Jersey, please subscribe or activate your digital account at the moment.
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This text initially appeared on NorthJersey.com: Fetty Wap: Paterson NJ rapper’s secret life catches up with him