A switch has been flipped for Rod Wave. The Florida rapper/singer isn’t a household name just yet, but in terms of his streaming numbers, he’s a star in all the ways you can count. Last week, he was the 7th most popular artist on the YouTube charts with 29.2 million weekly views, which places him ahead of industry stalwarts like Future and Post Malone. His last album, Ghetto Gospel, has almost one billion streams, according to Alpha Data, the analytics provider that powers Rolling Stone‘s charts, and he hits around 10 million streams per day across audio and video platforms. In February, his song “Thief In The Night” received a Cole Bennett-directed, Lyrical Lemonade music video — a popular, tastemaking pit stop for most rappers looking to give a single a near-guaranteed boost. The next month, DaBaby crashed the Charlotte stop of his Ghetto Gospel tour.
Wave’s latest release, “Pray 4 Love,” isn’t his best song, but it’s a goo primer on why the 20-year-old artist is quickly becoming one of 2020’s most lethal streaming threats. The song’s subject matter features the core tenets of YouTube-rap: trust issues (“Who can you trust in this cold, cold world, better get a blanket”), wariness around beautiful women (“And these hoes look so heaven-sent, but be so devilish”), and rebuking fame just as you’re on the cusp of it (“Like ain’t no love in this shit ’til you get rich and famous”). These lyrics are backed by a Tre Gilliam beats that’s equal parts somber and propulsive, featuring a pitched-up vocal sample that’s contorted into a squeal. It’s not until the song’s conclusion that Wave breaks out his smooth, gospel-tinged singing voice, by far his strongest asset.
Pray 4 Love, Wave’s second studio album will release on April 3rd.