Fetty Wap will be among the performer at this weekend’s iHeartRadio Jingle Ball, held at NYC’s Madison Square Garden. Yahoo Live will live-stream the show this Friday, Dec. 11, at 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. ET. Tune in here!
Pop stars typically hate being called role models. But “Trap Queen” rapper Fetty Wap embraced the label when he learned that he inspired a 10-year-old Colorado boy to stop wearing his prosthetic eye.
Fetty Wap can relate. The 25-year-old Newark, New Jersey native battled glaucoma as a child and lost an eye; he decided to stop wearing his own prosthetic last year. On the striking cover of his self-titled debut album, he boldly appears with his hand over his remaining eye, with is left empty eye socket in close-up.
When Jayden Burgos saw a picture of the hip-hop star without a prosthesis he decided to follow suit, Burgos’s mother told People. “At first he didn’t say much,” Brenda Vaden said. “But then we would overhear him talking to family members and friends about this rapper Fetty Wap who, like him, was missing an eye, and how he thought it was really cool.”
Stricken with retinoblastoma when he was an infant, Burgos had to have his left eye removed two weeks after his first birthday. In September, Burgos’s decision to stop wearing his prosthetic became news after Vaden thanked Fetty in a Facebook post. “Today I am forever thankful to a young man named Willie Maxwell aka Fetty Wap,” she wrote. “Today, after weeks of asking, Jayden is venturing the world without his prosthetic. I, of course, am a wreck because this world can be cruel, but so proud of our Boogie. This young rapper unknowingly gave Jayden something we weren’t able to give him – the confidence to be different – and I am grateful to him.”
Jayden Burgos (photo: Instagram)
Burgos’s first day at school without his prosthesis went well. Though he experienced some discomfort and called home a few times during the day, he endured. Additionally, his classmates were mostly supportive. “He said everyone was talking about him, that most kids were curious and wanted to see it, some said it was gross.” Vaden told People. “’But I really didn’t care, it was fine,’ he said. ‘The kids are calling me Fetty,’ he said, with the biggest smile on his face.”
Fetty was happy to hear about Burgos. “I’m glad that I was able to give him the courage to take out his prosthesis,” he said in a statement to People. “I’m proud of Jayden and I appreciate him more than he may know.”
When Fetty Wap visited the Yahoo Music offices in March, he explained why he stopped wearing his prosthesis. “I felt like I didn’t want to be like everybody else,” he explained. “People thought I was cross-eyed. There were a bunch of rumors… I just felt more confident about myself. Before when I wore the prosthesis, [when I took] a picture, I tried to look the other way. Now, it just don’t matter. I feel comfortable. It never bothered me. When it did, I used to fight all the time. Now, I’m just good, though.”
Fetty is more than good. He’s one of the year’s biggest new stars. In addition to be nominated at American Music Awards and Grammys, he received the BET Hip Hop Awards’ “Who Blew Up” honor and an MTV Video Music Awards’ Artist to Watch moonman. Still, one of his most exciting forms of early recognition happened in February, when Kanye West brought him onstage at the Roc City Classic concert in New York City.
“I felt like it was time to show the world what I could do,” Fetty recalled. At the time, it was still hard for Fetty to find the right words to describe how it felt to get Kanye’s support. “To get introduced from Kanye, that was like…” he began, before trailing off, still amazed by the moment.
What a cool surprise that the “Trap Queen” rapper ends up with one of the most touching, feelgood stories of the year.