Hip Hop Awards ‘20: Get To Know Fast-Rising Florida Rapper, Rod Wave

In a short time, the 22-year-old has carved out a lane for himself.

Rod Wave, born Rodarius Marcell Green, never envisioned a rap career for himself. But he was put on the path to stardom when his producer secretly uploaded his music online. His rhymes and beats unexpectedly garnered a local following in his hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida, and the rapper has not looked back. Since then, he has released a steady stream of mixtapes that put him on the radar of Alamo Records, which is now his home label. 

The 22-year-old rapper’s breakthrough came with the release of his single, “Heart on Ice,” from his mixtape, PTSD, which peaked at No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2019. He followed that up with the back-to-back releases of his debut studio album, Ghetto Gospel, and sophomore effort, Pray 4 Love, which peaked at No. 10 and No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, respectively.

In a short time, Rod Wave has carved out a lane for himself with his soul-bearing lyricism that touches on deep subjects like depression, pain, and overcoming hardship.

Now, the fast-rising Florida star has been nominated for Best New Hip Hop Artist at the 2020 BET Hip Hop Awards, alongside fellow newcomers Flo Milli, Jack Harlow, Mulatto, NLE Choppa and the late Pop Smoke. Get acquainted with the new face.

RELATED: Here Are The Nominees For Best New Hip Hop Artists

  • Rod Wave originally had no intentions of making a career out of being a rapper.

    As a teenager, he started recording music as a hobby after his father bought him a microphone. However, his producer started uploading some of his tracks online without his knowledge. “I used to be scared to upload my music," he admitted to XXL while sharing the origin of his moniker. “I just used to make music and just to listen to it myself. So one day, he just uploaded it and gave me my name. I came back to school, everybody was like, 'Rod Wave!' I ain't know what the hell they was talkin’ ’bout.”

  • His career shares this parallel with Kanye West.

    Kanye West’s 2003 track, “Through the Wire,” remains a defining song of his career. The then-emerging Chicago rapper opened up about the car crash that nearly claimed his life. Rod Wave found himself in similar circumstances after the Florida native wrecked his car, which he channeled on his own track of the same name.  In a subsequent interview with Billboard, Rod Wave explained that it was intentional. “Actually, when it happened, I was on Kanye real tough. I was just thinking about it right before [the accident],” he said. “It was crazy. Then, it happened to me. So I definitely got that from Kanye.” He sees West as a source of inspiration.

  • Kevin Gates as another source of inspiration.

    The 22-year-old rapper has often garnered comparisons to Gates, a fellow Floridian. In an October 2019 interview, Rod Wave shared he was in the eighth grade when he discovered Gates. He would eventually get the chance to work with Gates, who executive-produced his debut studio album, Ghetto Gospel.

    “You made me understand people like us could actually go far,” he said in a video message to Gates that was recorded for XXL, “people like us could actually do it in the game. Just the fact that you could take your pain and turn up with it. I was excited to work with you because you're somebody I been lookin' up to for a long time.”

  • Rod Wave’s creative process is a little unorthodox.

    He is inspired by beats, and works solo, well, kind of. “I just listen to beats with my headphones in, and that's how I come up with songs,” he told Complex in April. “Then a couple of days later, me and the engineer, we set up a studio in the hotel room, set up the mic, and just record all of them. I don’t go in no studio. I don’t do no sessions with producers and stuff. I don’t do none of that. It’s just me and the engineer.”

  • Rod Wave would like to write a book or movie script one day.

    In the future, his writing will not be limited to rhymes and beats. “The stuff I was reading were urban books and I definitely got into it a lot. So writing books, writing scripts and writing movies, [is the goal],” he told Billboard in July. “I love watching movies because it's the same thing with music: it's me telling my story. The stuff I've seen, you'd be amazed.”

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