You never know until you try. Rod Wave, the 19-year-old St. Petersburg, Fla., native, was extremely reluctant to jump off in the rap game. Just two years ago, Rod’s father got out of jail and bought him a microphone, coinciding with his brother giving him a computer that he found. Using this starter-level setup to record, Rod Wave made music for fun, not thinking it’d ever move the people. His go-to-producer of the time took the initiative and—with Rod’s blessing—released highly personal tracks that quickly gained approval from his local audience. Rod built his buzz in Florida via shows and word of mouth, with his street-soul sound helping him to gain enough momentum to land on the radar of Alamo Records, the label to which he signed in 2018.
After dropping Hunger Games 3, the third installment in his mixtape series, late last year, Rod Wave is ready for his next couple of moves, including performing at Rolling Loud Miami in his home state. Learn more about this Florida native’s heartfelt music in this week’s The Break.
Hometown: St. Petersburg, Fla.
I grew up listening to: “I liked Kanye West when I was coming up. My brother had put me on his first album [College Dropout], this bear or something on the front cover. I didn’t think I would like it. 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. I listened to a lot of Kevin Gates too, from the beginning, when he first came home. I used to love Lil Boosie. Just how deep they could go in they music, you could close your eyes and just listen.”
My style’s been compared to: “They always say [Kevin] Gates, but I don’t like that shit. I love listening to that nigga music, but I don’t be tryna be like a nigga, so don’t compare me to no nigga.”
My standout records to date have been: “‘Pain’—I did that one dolo. My boy shot the video, he just took all the stuff that we been going through and he put them like a slideshow. I put my all into that song. The record with Moneybagg Yo (‘Feel The Same Way’), ‘Heart For Sale,’ ‘Heartbreak Hotel,’ ‘Get Her Back.’ If you pay attention to all them songs, they’re all different aspects. I got a love song, a street song, something for the niggas, something for the females.”
My most slept-on song: “‘Let Me Down’—that’s my favorite song on the project, ’cause of what I was going through. I couldn’t talk about it with nobody but I went in the booth and said everything I was feeling. But somebody might not be feelin’ that right now, so they sleep on it until they go through it. A lot of people relate to it, but they wanna hear something uptempo.”
Most people don’t know: “With a career where you have to troll, you gotta do all this shit—that ain’t me. Before I had this, I had a regular life, gettin up, doing what I need to do to put some money in my pocket. But now that I’m in the music business, you have to make all this noise to get attention, it aint me. I’m just like you. I’m a regular person who just makes nice music.”
I’m going to blow up because: “I just love making music, bruh. The shit that’s goin’ on in the music shit, that shit ain’t gon’ last too long. Poppin’ Percs everyday gon’ kill ya ass and going to the club every night gets tiring. But life comes with ups and downs. Life comes with pain. That’s what I give the people, what I go through. I really don’t wanna talk about none of that other shit. We talk about love, pain, everyday struggles and I feel like that’s gonna last the longest.”
I’m going to be the next: “Next big nigga out the bottom.”
Hunger Games 3
“Heart 4 Sale”
“Feel The Same Way” featuring Moneybagg Yo
See 20 of Your Favorite Rappers Naming Their Favorite Rappers