New Jersey’s Fetty Wap and Dallas’ Post Malone made two of the most inescapable smash hits in hip-hop of the past year, so it was only right for them to join forces on the “Welcome To The Zoo” tour to kick 2016 off. I was able to attend the sold out Philadelphia stop at The Fillmore, and had a bunch of the good ol’ mindless fun I expected to have.
However, as I arrived into the two-floor, 2,600-capacity venue, Fetty’s “Remy Boyz” affiliates were beginning the seemingly endless train they ran on the stage for about an hour. One after another, members of Fetty’s crew came and went, performing a couple songs each, none of which stood out in any way. Honestly, none of them caught enough of my attention to note their names; generic trap rap with boring lyrics and copycat cadences abounded. It felt like a local open mic showcase where up and coming rappers figure out how to hold a microphone and practice their rap hands. I was somewhat intrigued when the only female in the clique walked out, but soon I echoed the crowd’s boredom as she performed 3 cookie cutter pop tracks, flanked by two dancers. She managed to bite Rihanna’s whole steez (in a ‘karoake’ type way) while still somehow sounding trapped in the early 2000’s.
Man, all that seemed harsh; I’m sure the RGF’s artists are good people. However, sometimes it’s best to just let the homies handle the merch, drive the tour bus, or learn accounting; you know, anything but perform their underdeveloped songs to underwhelm the crowd on your tour. But, I will say that the show’s host and DJ were on point; funny, energetic, and dropping just the right bangers to keep the mostly teenaged crowd’s short attention spans engaged.
After the folks of 1738 finished up, I gulped down an overpriced whiskey and ginger as I awaited Post Malone. The 20-year old, cornrow-wearing singer/rapper came out less than 10 minutes after the set before his ended, clad in an all black ensemble, accented by a gold chain and brown dress boots. Post, somewhat surprisingly, came out to his biggest hit, “White Iverson“; it seemed unwise for him to play his most famous hit first. Then, he had his DJ, FKi, who also produced the song, cut it short as Malone addressed the crowd before leading into his next track, the dark-yet-catchy-as-hell “Too Young“.
Post’s banter between songs hinted at a stage presence beyond his years; he was comfy up there. The only negative of his set was the lack of any new, unreleased material being premiered, which could have boosted excitement for his upcoming debut album. However, other than excluding dope recent track “Boy Bandz“, he did play everything we wanted to hear, from”Tear$” to “What’s Up” (complete with a new verse by FKi) to “#mood“, his take on 50 Cent’s “Window Shopper“; Malone even brought 50 out previously in New York City. He was the best overall performer in a night full of newcomers, closing with a “White Iverson” encore “for the Sixers”, a brilliant move in Philly. The future certainly looks bright for the young Texan.
“Time for Fetty Wap, goddamn!” Post exclaimed as he exited the stage; the hyper crowd had the same enthusiasm, chanting for Fetty to come out. After the screening of a video of the owner of Fetty’s indie label, RGF productions, detailing their come up, the star of his roster made his entrance. Coming out the epic hook of “RGF Island“, Fetty seemed comfortable as well, watching the crowd bounce up and down as they chanted each and every lyric. Fetty wasted no time getting into another hit, the bouncy hood love ballad “Again“, building energy strongly and steadily.
However, that momentum was derailed, as Fetty made a rookie mistake by stopping the set…to hand out copies of his album. While an admirable gesture to his fans, it should have waited for a meet and greet afterwards. The crowd seemed confused by this ‘local rapper hustle’ move, but the front row sure looked thankful for the CDs. Fetty then went into the solid “In My Ways“, before flatlining the energy yet again by bringing out his right-hand man, Monty.
I respect that Monty is essentially Fetty’s brother, but that doesn’t mean anyone there really wanted to see him perform 3 unknown solo tracks in the middle of the headliner’s set. But that’s what happened, and the reaction was pretty lukewarm. Monty’s lack of stage presence confirmed that, for now at least, he should be relegated to ‘hypeman’ duty, as his solo work was as forgettable as the rest of the Remy Boyz’ who performed earlier. While the energy was still positive (even with numerous intoxicated teens being thrown out), Fetty was beginning to lose the crowd.
But Fetty was clearly confident in the material he had left in his set, as he should have been; the medley of bangers he dropped next was the most fun of the entire night. “My Way“, “679“, “Juug” and “Time” blared through the venue’s excellent sound system to the sea of fans’ delight. Fetty then brought out one of Philadelphia’s rising stars, PnB Rock, to perform their collab, “Jealous“. While I don’t think placing another guest spot this late in the set was a good idea for pacing, PnB went over well enough, despite only about the half crowd seeming to know who he was.
Finally, the song we all were waiting for dropped, as the sound of “Trap Queen“‘s staccato synths filled the room. Fetty then had the DJ cut the track, leading the crowd through a chillingly awesome a capella version of the hook, to which they screamed every word. Then, the beat came back in as Fetty and his crew bounced around stage with the ecstatic energy of someone who came from nothing and was now selling out every stop on a national tour. As I exited the room, still hearing countless concertgoers chanting “Trap Queen” lyrics, I realized that it didn’t really matter if Fetty’s crew were underdeveloped, or that his set could’ve been structured better; what mattered was a formerly homeless kid from North Jersey was out here performing some of the most genuinely fun rap songs in recent memory to sold out crowds.
Even the most jaded critic can’t hate on that. Keep killin’ ‘em, Fetty.