When you feel called to do it you have to speak your truth. Honesty has become Rod Wave's calling card. The 20-year-old St. Petersburg, Fla. rapper has used his unique voice, which goes from soul-bearing lyrics to hard-hitting bars, to become one of the most talented young rappers in his region and beyond.

After the success of Rod Wave's summer release of his PTSD project, featuring the songs "Heart on Ice" and "Popular Loner"—both have been streamed more than 25 million times on YouTube—Rod will drop his follow-up, Ghetto Gospel, tomorrow. The album is executive-produced by Kevin Gates, a rapper Rod has been a fan of for quite some time. Rod Wave sat down with XXL to discuss the process of working with Gates on Ghetto Gospel and why Gates motivated him to rap in the first place.

Rod starts off by sharing how Gates made it seem possible that someone like him could use his talents to succeed in the game. "I really liked your music since the eighth grade, just how you talk about your life," Rod says. "You made me understand people like us could actually go far, people like us could actually do it in the game. Just the fact that you could take your pain and turn up with it."

Since Gates is known for his raw lyrics and holding nothing back when it comes to sharing his tough times, it's clear he has an impact on the younger generation of rappers who follow the same route. Rod is one of the few artists who have been lucky to score a feature from Gates this year. "I was excited to work with you because you're somebody I been lookin' up to for a long time," Rod admits.

Aside from their work together crafting the Ghetto Gospel album, Gates also collaborated with Rod as a feature on the song "Cuban Links." When it came to making the track, everything was seamless. "It was smooth, it was literally a 30-minute process," Rod recalls. "When you came in and laid the verse, it was like it was supposed to happen."

Their work together in the studio is a reflection of their friendship, which also strengthened due to Rod's time on the road with Gates for his I'm Him tour, also featuring 2019 XXL Freshman YK Osiris. "When I was on tour with you, it was fun seeing the world, and I learned how big the world was," Rod tells. "Being stuck in a bubble and stuck in a market, you feel me, it kinda made me more humbler because it's like it's a whole ’nother side of the world that don't even know who you is." There's always something to gain, especially from one of your peers.

Watch Rod Wave salute Kevin Gates below.

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