Gravel or velvet, jagged edges or curved slopes, coarse scales or soft fur: A voice generally contains one or the other. But Rod Wave plays between extremes. His singing voice is gentle and yearning, while his rapping is akin to DMX after taking ineffective cough medicine. The Florida rapper plays with this dichotomy throughout last week’s Ghetto Gospel, but it’s on “Close Enough to Hurt” that he employs the ability to vocally switch gears most effectively.
Over the mellow strings of the Drum Dummie and Ashton Sellars-produced beat, his performance seesaws. The first line of the chorus erupts like a growl (“In this life I’ve been scarred”), while the second half settles into a sweet coo (“So I walk around with my guard, guard”). As far subject matter goes, “Close Enough to Hurt” is well-worn territory. It’s a song dedicated to the ones who deserted Rod Wave, don’t deserve Rod Wave, and hurt Rod Wave. The trope isn’t new, but the color he adds to it makes the journey worth it.
More from Rolling Stone
- Song You Need to Know: Victoria Monet, 'Ass Like That'
- Song You Need to Know: Dua Lipa, 'Don't Start Now'
- Gang Starr's First Album in 16 Years is a Gift to Old-School Rap Fans
Find a playlist of all of our recent Songs You Need to Know selections on Spotify.
Best of Rolling Stone
- 13 Gutsiest Loretta Lynn Lyrics
- How 'Led Zeppelin II' Was Born
- 35 Greatest Horror Soundtracks: Modern Masters, Gatekeepers Choose
See where your favorite artists and songs rank on the Rolling Stone Charts.