The man looked so good that it was hard to believe it was true.
In Paterson, one of America’s poorest cities, the suddenly rich, homegrown pop star has stepped forward as a community philanthropist.
A rapper with the stage name “Fetty Wap” wanted to draw such an image.
Today we know that image was a lie. His Fetty Wap, now 31, lived a double life that reflected his double name — Fetty Wap turned rapper and community activist, Willie Junior Maxwell II Fetty Wap’s real name. A drug dealer currently heading to federal prison.
Fetty Wap’s downfall is tragic on many levels for him, his family, those who believed in his integrity, and ultimately for the city he called home. But more broadly, this is also the story of how our culture accepts celebrities all too easily, no questions asked.
Let’s turn back the clock to understand this arc of sorrow.
“In love with money”
In 2014, Maxwell went by the name Fetty Wap and had a major rap hit with the song “Trap Queen.” The song rapped about selling drugs and buying Ferraris and Lamborghinis.
“I’m in love with money,” sang Fetty Wap. “I will never let go.”
The song was nominated for a Grammy and won awards from MTV, BET and Billboard. In a review, The New York Times praised “Trap Queen”: “Sparkles and screams and borderline whims.”
By the end of the summer of 2015, “Trap Queen” was still topping the charts, and Fetty Wap announced that it would give Paterson students a free concert and give away backpacks and iPads.
“Without Patterson, I wouldn’t be Fetty Wap,” he announced.
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Mayor Paterson Joey Torres He was imprisoned for illegally ordering city officials to renovate a warehouse owned by a relative, and he described the Fetty Wap concert as a “homecoming party” and “a true story of a ragged rich man.” A gentleman who never lost sight of anything,” he called. He wanted to do it in life and worked hard.
Torres’ praise was an even more understatement. But this was the beginning of Patterson and Fetty Wap’s love affair.
Over the next three years, Fetty Wap introduced himself as something of a savior for the citizens. His face has appeared in car racing video games. He strutted the runway during his week of fashion in New York City. Patterson and other communities in New Jersey and New York welcomed his mat roll out.
Months after a free concert where members of two of Paterson’s most violent gangs swore a truce and sat together, Fetty Wap handed out hundreds of free Thanksgiving turkeys to city residents. Three days before that, he appeared on the balcony of the Westfield Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, where he threw $2,000 at shoppers.
In September 2017, Fetty Wap showed up in Hackensack handing out cash to kids on the street. Digital video platforms like the TMZ tabloid dubbed him the “Summer Santa Claus”.
Six months later, Patterson’s East Side High School dropout Fetty Wap says her family relied on food stamps when she was young in the city. compared to the Easter Bunny After he handed out gift cards to city residents just in time to buy new costumes and food for the Easter holidays.
“I will always be there for anything I can do to help my hometown especially,” he told NorthJersey.com. Now that I can do more than I can, I can help as many people as possible.”
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Giving out gift cards has catapulted Fetty Wap into celebrity media nirvana. Page Six of The New York Post canonized him, declaring that he was “no stranger to giving back.”
But not everything was so rosy. In fact, some troubling signs about Fetty Wap have also surfaced.
Arrests — and Drugs
In November 2017, Fetty Wap was charged with DUI and drag racing on a Brooklyn highway. Two years later, he was arrested for punching a hotel security guard in Las Vegas, where a Las Vegas judge later agreed to drop his charges if Fetty Wap didn’t cause trouble. did.
Meanwhile, there were lingering concerns expressed by Patterson’s educators and others that Fetty Wap’s songs contained too many drug references. In the not-so-small personal news that he had six children with six different women in one year.
no matter. If the man showed up with money and gifts, who should complain?
But last October, Fetty Wap’s celebrity streak came to an end. When he tried to take the stage on his field in the City of Queens for a music festival, FBI agents arrested him and sent Long his island to smuggle large amounts of heroin, fentanyl, and other drugs into New York. accused of being part of a conspiracy based in urban area.
Did the scheme involve passing the drugs directly to Patterson’s dealers? Federal prosecutors didn’t say anything specific, and the court found that Fetty Wap found 500 grams of cocaine in New Jersey in a “significant excess.” I just mentioned that it helped me distribute it to .
The irony here is as overt and ugly as Patterson’s despicable street crack. It is responsible for propelling the kind of matter that has been cast on it and left a trail of suffering and death.
Fetty Wap was released on $500,000 bail. But earlier this month, after he allegedly pointed a gun and threatened to kill another man during a FaceTime call, a federal judge revoked his bail and sent him back to prison to await the outcome of his trial.
However, Fetty Wap will not be brought to justice. Earlier this week, he pleaded guilty to the most serious charges against him. Conspiracy to distribute and possess controlled substances.
The plea deal, which focuses only on cocaine, not heroin or fentanyl, requires a minimum of five years in federal prison and a maximum of 40 years in prison. As bad as it was, it could have been worse. Fetty Wap’s plea would have allowed him to avoid a potential life sentence if he had been convicted of all the charges he faced.
Standing before a federal magistrate in West Islip, New York, Fetty Wap declared that she had “agreed with other people to distribute cocaine” and “knew the act was illegal”. ” he declared. Prosecutors said that as long as Fetty Wap was sentenced to 10 years and 1 month or less, he waived his right to appeal.
In other words, Fetty Wap is set to go to jail for quite a few years, leaving behind his false heritage and the children he fathered. finished.
There were no memorials on Patterson’s streets, no crowds of fans mourning the loss of the rap equivalent of Pied Piper, who came to town offering free concerts, free turkeys and other gifts. .
After pleading guilty in court under the name Willie Jr. Maxwell II, Fetty Wap turned to a small cadre of supporters before returning to his cell to await sentencing in a few months.
“I love you,” he said.
Maybe he meant it. maybe not. After all, this was Fetty Wap. He looked too good.
Mike Kelley is an award-winning columnist for NorthJersey.com, author of three critically acclaimed non-fiction books, and podcast and documentary film producer. For unlimited access to his insightful thoughts on how we live in New Jersey, subscribe now or activate your digital account.
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This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com. Fetty Wap: The Patterson, New Jersey rapper’s secret life catches up with him