Rod Wave is a rapper/singer known for his melodic rap and creative usage of samples within his tracks. He is popular for his vulnerable music with emotional lyrics about experiences such as how his fame has impacted him and a melancholic beat . Wave gained a lot of popularity through his track “Heart On Ice” released in Nov. 2019 and broke his own charting record with his latest album release, on Sept. 15, 2023, titled Nostalgia.
Nostalgia is the first of Rod Wave’s number-one Billboard charting placements to hold the number-one spot for multiple weeks according to Billboard. This album maintained the same style of lyricism and vulnerability as heard from most of his previous work and features popular samples from artists Wet, Sadie Jean and Paramore, and one featured track with 21 Savage. The opening track titled “Nostalgia” expresses Wave’s usual reminiscence on life before fame and contains a sample from “Where Did the Day Go” by Wet, an R&B duo. In the song, he describes being “disconnected from the trenches” regarding his relationship with the streets where he grew up. He emphasizes in the song that his “heart [is] forever in it,” and he explores the fact that he never forgets his roots, despite his growth in popularity and wealth. Wave continues to reminisce on the friends he had before fame, the time they spent together and the small performances he did at “hole-in-the-wall clubs,” much smaller than the arenas that he performs in now.
Another of his songs,“HG4,” explores Wave’s road to success by telling a story about the turmoil he faced before fame and his outlook on his accomplishments. He explains that because of the circumstances he grew up in, most people assumed that he would either be “dead or in jail” according to his lyrics, instead of becoming the rapper that he is today. Because of this, in “HG4” Wave emphasizes in his lyrics his belief that “it's all about grinding” when it comes to reaching such a level of success. He talks about how he turned to the streets to get by and worked hard for everything he has today so that he could do things for his family like buying his sister a car after she supported him through rough times. While Wave remains consistent in his overall message within “Nostalgia” and “HG4,” he shows his versatility through his musical experimentation within the hip-hop and R&B genres. “Turks & Caicos” featuring 21 Savage for example, explores a more fun side of Wave than previously heard before. The song has a more relaxed and groovy vibe than his usual accompaniments. The song discusses living a lavish party lifestyle and traveling with attractive women. The story told in “Turks & Caicos” provides a good contrast with Wave’s usual songs about heartbreak and emotional turmoil and depicts the women around him as fun and easygoing rather than as the main cause of his emotional turmoil.
In contrast, Rod Wave typically focuses on messages of heartbreak and different experiences he’s had within his relationships with women. “Fight The Feeling,” which was released before the album dropped, reminds listeners of this aspect of his musical career. This song explores the way that women are “so good at hiding” their feelings after a breakup or other emotional turmoil caused by a romantic relationship. He describes a woman who, despite going through heartbreak, has gotten done up and is spending her time “in the middle of the club, tryin' not to cry to a love song” as he writes in his song. In doing so, he also explains how he relates to the woman, having come “a long way with so many scars” and finally finding “a brighter day from being lost in the dark.” In another track on the “Nostalgia” album titled “Great Gatsby,” Wave talks about going through a breakup and desperately trying to get back in contact with his former girlfriend. In his attempts to be reunited with her, he throws “the party of the century,” much like the massive party thrown in the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, after which the song was titled.
Rod Wave continues to grow as a musician through his songs, implementing new styles and flavors that he hasn’t explored before while maintaining his original style and message. Throughout his career, he also continues to express his gratitude to those who helped him reach this point as an artist and remains humble despite his fame. Those who listen to Wave’s music can experience this growth with him and still be reminded of who he was before the spotlight.
By: Elaina Irving, Contributing Writer
Graphic by: Shae-Lynn Henderson, EIC