If ever there was a project that had the disclaimer “play this only at your cookout/summertime event” Bruce Wayne is it. Fetty Wap, progenitor of a stream of 2014-15 singles that culminated in a self-titled debut album returns with Bruce Wayne, a mixtape stylized in his image three years ago. The 11-track outing pays homage to Batman’s daily persona, though the reference is largely in name only as Fetty continues his preference for adlibbed croons and his patented blend of sing-rap.
Bruce Wayne plays like nothing has changed since May of 2015, when Fetty Wap took over Memorial Day barbecues and red-light flex-a-thons. There are decisively more Yeahhhhhuhh, baby’s” than his last project, almost an admission of what his audience wanted. Fetty Wap isn’t a one hit wonder and his debut album proved that. Front to back the project was catchy and fitting for its September 2015 release date. Unfortunately for him, everything Fetty lacked in sonic diversity was better capitalized in the trap/808 movement that eclipsed his version of pop-hop/r&b.
Given the ease of releasing music in 2018 however, the term “one-hit wonder” needs a modern analog. Continually, throwing his tapes onto Datpiff and YouTube, Fetty Wap has the benefit of never entirely falling out of favor with his audience even though his most recent songs are minimal contributors to his 1.5 billion YouTube plays. With Bruce Wayne, Fetty’s suffering from, to steal a term from the NBA, a heat-check.
Stylistically, little has changed between Fetty Wap and Bruce Wayne. Many of the tracks are vessels to deliver Fetty’s favorite adlibs and nothing more. On “Look at Me” Fetty says “baby” no fewer than 25 times in the two-minute 52 second cut yet the track is harmless and standard fare for the tape, as Fetty commits to a style that earned his riches three years ago.
That committal nature is subverted on the intro cut, “So Different” and the title track. The former is an amazing opening gambit. Fetty Wap gives the illusion that, as the track title implies, things have changed. His r&b crooning floats in a shade higher than when he flexed on “My Way”. He skirts around the hook like a ghost whisperer, but when the beat drops, he’s returned to 2015 Fetty through and through.
The title track however must send shivers down Lil Uzi Vert’s spine. He pushes his delivery forward with an “XO Tour Life” type urgency as he flexes over a bass-heavy, recorder laden Thank You Fizzle beat. Barring his slip into uziism, not even the most elite cover artist could replicate Fetty Wap’s music. He’s dug so far into himself he’s past all the precious metals. Fetty Wap is approaching the molten core with pinpoint accuracy – Bruce Wayne is assuredly fire but whether that means a steaming pile of trash or collection of summer bangers is open to interpretation.
Wap’s debut album went double platinum for a reason. Slotting in amidst the transition from iTunes downloads to streaming takeover, Fetty hit his stride before playlists could keep him relevant. If Fetty’s earworm ability manifested a year later, when Apple Music and its competitors had fully taken hold, his trajectory might be closer to “I can skip out on shows” level than “I hope my manager booked that gig” level. Bruce Wayne puts Fetty Wap back on track. His track. His lane runs adjacent to artists like lil Yachty who feverishly stick to their guns, even when the rap-o-sphere calls for change. Fetty might never reach again his debut plateau, but at this rate, his Spotify playlist will be a fun listen, even a couple years from now.