The Untold Truth Of Rod Wave

The past two years have not been easy for most people, especially considering the pandemic and the political climate. But while most people might have been stuck inside their homes, waiting for things to go back to normal, others, like rapper Rod Wave, seemed to be having the time of their lives. He released two albums during a pandemic, had his single "Heart On Ice" go viral on TikTok, and, as of April 2021, knocked Justin Bieber out of the number one spot on the Billboard charts with his album, SoulFly. Things are certainly happening for the 21-year-old St. Petersburg, Florida native and by the way things are already going for him, this is just the beginning of a long and interesting career. 

Wave came onto the scene in November 2019, when he released his first studio album, Ghetto Gospel, which made it to the 10th spot on the overall Billboard US charts and number seven on the R&B/hip hop charts. His next album, Pray 4 Love came out in April 2020 and climbed to the second spot on both charts. And now he has SoulFly. These are strange times to be a breakout star — though he had been on the hip hop circuit long before his studio releases — but that hasn't stopped Rod Wave from connecting with people. Here are some things you might not know about the rapper. 

Rod Wave never meant to be a rap star

Rod Wave didn't know off the bat that he wanted to get into music, but when he started dabbling in it, everything changed for him. 

"I feel like before music, I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I didn't know where I was going to end up. I was scared to even have people depending on me. I just wanted to get away and do my own thing. So if I fail, I fail on my own," the rapper told Billboard in April 2020. "But now, I'm making music and actually living life and being the one that people depend on. It feels good. It gives me a reason to wake up. It gave me a purpose. It made me want to live and have kids. Live and see 50, 60. Because before music, I was ready to crash out." 

It's lucky that he didn't crash at the young age of 19 and was able to find a path that fulfilled him. And making music that has a message is the most important to him. 

Rod Wave's musical influences are not what you might expect

Rod Wave cites 2Pac as one of his biggest influences because he feels that the late rapper actually had a message. "'Pac laid the blueprint," he told Billboard. "If you're gonna make music and you're gonna send a message, make it mean something and try to change the world and [hopefully] end up doing it. Don't be up there, bouncing around being a damn clown." He cites some of his fave 2Pac as being "Letter 2 My Unborn" and  "White Man'z World." 

Wave also revealed that he considers Kanye West a major influence. "My brother had put me on his first album [The College Dropout], this bear or something on the front cover. I didn't think I would like it," the rapper recalled to XXL. "It was just different, and he wasn't tryna be somethin' he wasn't. It was like a breath of fresh air. It wasn't murder-murder kill-kill; he was talking about something else.

But that's not all Rod is listening to. "I love Adele," he revealed to Billboard. "I'm ready for her to drop her album. You can just hear her pain. You can hear everything she went through. It's real life." He adds, "I listen to everything that sounds good with a story. I even listen to Adele. I listen to all kinds of music. Everything with a story that I can listen to and close my eyes and visualize it. I just love music."

He's very particular about how he records

Rod Wave's first two albums were mostly recorded alone with just his engineer. Guest features are also few and far between on those albums, which is notable for a hip-hop record, although on SoulFly he collabs with others. This is on purpose. "Making music for me is personal. When I do my music, I don't even go to the studio. It's just me and my engineer in a dark room somewhere, recording," he told Complex. "[Linking] with others or doing other stuff, I ain't really trying to send the wrong message. I'll root for anybody doing their thing with the music. I just like doing my own thing. I've been like that." That explains why it's hard for him to bring others into the recording studio with him. 

He told Billboard that sometimes, it's not even in the studio — he'll just record in dark hotel rooms, hanging out. 

He won't make certain kinds of music

Since music is so personal, he has strict guidelines for himself about what sort of tunes he's putting out into the universe. He told XXL that he doesn't want to make songs about doing drugs or partying. He was blunt about his opinion in an interview with Complex: "I can't listen to that sh*t. So I can't make that kind of music, because I don't listen to it." He continued, "When I was just a fan of rap music, I liked to listen to n***** who talk real sh*t. I listened to Pac cause he was talking about real sh*t. When you listen to Lil Boosie, you feel that sh*t. That's the type of music I like. I ain't always have no Bentley. I ain't always have $6 million. I don't want to talk about that because that sh*t is meaningless. It could be gone tomorrow. We need to talk about real sh*t: the way we feel, all that."

If he keeps staying that true to himself, real fans of music will follow — if they haven't already. 

Rod Wave teamed up with his idol

Rod Wave has said in the aforementioned interviews that he doesn't really collaborate with many people, much like another rapper he looks up to — Kevin Gates, who famously is very picky about who he features with. In 2019, though, Wave and Gates teamed up for "Cuban Links," a track from Wave's first studio album, Ghetto Gospel. 

Wave counts Gates as an inspiration, going so far in one interview with XXL to say that the Louisiana rapper inspired him to get in the game. He told Gates in a sit-down with the outlet, "I really liked your music since the eighth grade, just how you talk about your life," Rod says. "You made me understand people like us could actually go far, people like us could actually do it in the game. Just the fact that you could take your pain and turn up with it."

The two rappers said in an interview with All Hip Hop that they were holed up in a New Orleans hotel room to record and eventually went on tour together, albeit one that was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. Still, it's always nice to see two like-minded performers team up.