Rod Wave’s latest album, Pray 4 Love, is expected to debut near the top of the Billboard 200 chart next week, according to the trade publication Hits Daily Double. Thanks to a devoted fanbase, the 21-year-old St. Petersburg, Florida native and Alamo Records signee will likely become a household name before the end of the year.
“Making music for me is personal,” Rod Wave told Complex last week. “When I do my music, I don’t even go to the studio. It’s just me and my engineer in a dark room somewhere, recording.”
If Rod Wave, one of the most promising newcomers in the entire music industry, records alone with his engineer, where are all of his producers? Where does he source his beats?
For starters, YouTube, which is where Rod Wave discovered Sumter, South Carolina producer TnTXD is one of his most consistent suppliers of beats. While the producer tag “Pipe that shit up, TnT” appears on only three songs that TNT co-produced―“Fuck The World,” “I Remember,” “5% Tints”― of the 12 songs found on Pray 4 Love, the two have several songs together, including the Kevin Gates-featuring “Cuban Links” and “Popular Loner,” a 2019 loosie that has amassed over 28 million views on YouTube.
To date, TnTXD, born Thomas Horton, has amassed 128,000 YouTube subscribers, with more than 44 million views on his channel, by uploading two new beats every two days. Success on the platform has given the 26-year-old the freedom to travel the world and purchase his first home.
“I feel like, at any time, the placements can slow down a little bit, but YouTube is never slowing down,” TnTXD says. ”YouTube is constant.”
The tireless work ethic of making and uploading beats has been fruitful for TnTXD, who I spoke with last week following the release of Pray 4 Love. In our conversation, lightly edited for content and clarity and following below, TnT explains his relationship with Rod Wave, the unreleased song he has with NBA YoungBoy and Young Thug, and how YouTube can change a producer’s life.
DJBooth: I see you joined YouTube in April 2014. Were you posting beats back then?
TnTXD: Yeah, I did. I would post, but with YouTube, you have to really do YouTube. You can’t just say, ‘Imma post a beat’ and then stop. It was three years ago when I started posting every two days.
Every two days?
Yeah. Really, the last two years. No matter what I’m doing, I gotta post a beat. I feel like if I stopped, then my YouTube gonna [fail].
One new beat, every two days?
Yep. It gotta be every two days, at the same time: seven o’clock [PM], no matter what. I got to. YouTube literally turned my life around, for real for real. So why not stay consistent with it?
When did you notice that YouTube was changing your life?
I don’t base my career off of money, but, at the same time, I started making hundreds of thousands a year just off YouTube. I wasn’t making money from the industry. When I bought my house, it was [from] YouTube money. When I travel, it’s with nothing but money from YouTube. I started realizing, this is crazy. So I’m like, why would I stop? I get so many placements off of YouTube. Now I’m getting more into the industry.
You don’t want to stop the hustle.
I feel like, at any time, the placements can slow down a little bit, but YouTube is never slowing down. YouTube is constant. Let’s say you get a placement. It may take months to drop, and then you have to do paperwork. With YouTube, it’s every day. Why stop that?
Are you also able to monetize your YouTube page?
Yeah, I monetize my YouTube page, but I sell beats. I sell leases, and I still have a beat store. [At] any time, artists can go on there and lease a beat. When people don’t have the biggest budgets, but they still want a beat from me [they’re able to get one].
Are you pretty much offering to everybody? Open-source.
I want my beats everywhere. I’m not the type of producer that’s too big to work with this type of person. I don’t care, as long as I hear my tag, I’m good.
How did you decide to enter the “Type Beat” market?
I just followed other producers like Landwave. I saw they were doing type beats, and it was working. I joined a producer group called Flyway. It had a bunch of producers who were all doing YouTube. They helped me out by teaching me what to do. They told me, “Find your artist; find your niche.” I listen to [NBA] YoungBoy a lot, so since I like YoungBoy and YoungBoy hot, I’mma make a YoungBoy type beat. It just went crazy. Shit, to this day, I post YoungBoy, Rod Wave, or anybody in their lane.
When did YoungBoy reach out to you to get on one of your beats?
Nah, I never talked to YoungBoy. I talked to his A&R, Eli [Piccarreta]. Before he blew up, I had one of his biggest songs. He put it on YouTube, and back then, he had like a million views on it. That was pretty big for him; it was before he dropped “38 Baby.” Eli reached out to me before he became YoungBoy. A guy from my city tagged me in a post from him and was like, “You got a song with NBA YoungBoy,” and it had like 60,000 views at the time. I was like, alright, cool. A couple of months later, he just went dumb.
Nuts. How’d you end up connecting with Rod Wave?
YouTube. I literally just talked to Rod Wave for the first time. Like, had a conversation with him, like, three weeks ago.
But y’all been working?
Yeah, we been working, but I never talked to him.
Does he just get your beats off YouTube?
Yeah, I been DMing him for the last two months like, “Bro, what’s your number? I want to send you beats.” I never sent him a beat, ever. I was like, “Bro, what’s your email?” And he would never read it. He finally hit me back three weeks ago. He sent me his number. We had one conversation. That was it.
All the beats he’s rapped over, he purchased off your YouTube. You never sent him the files directly?
Matter fact, I’m lying. I sent one beat to his manager—one time. I used to know his manager. I sent that “Popular Loner” beat. But everything else, every beat he’s rapped on, he would take it straight from YouTube, and his label would reach out.
With the number of placements you have with Rod Wave, I thought you were making beats just for him.
Don’t get me wrong, when I make a beat, I’ll think, this song is for Rod. But, at the same time, I never had a way to send it to him. So, it sounds like Rod, but I gotta post it. I posted that as an NBA YoungBoy type beat. Matter fact, all of them were NBA YoungBoy type beats. The “5% Tint” was a Quando Rondo type beat.
I like that one. All the beats you have on the tape are hard.
That’s crazy, I got three on there and never sent him beats. Everybody wants to work with him.
Makes sense; his profile is going up.
I don’t take it personally, because I know I’m a closed in person too. So I understand how it go. He loves my beats, so I feel like we’re going to continue working. We got some big songs. The relationship is there. Once we get to the point where we can communicate, it’s gonna be crazy.
For you, right now, you want to keep the YouTube hustle going?
Everybody wants to venture away eventually. I got a foot in the industry. I feel like I’m hanging over the edge right now. I’m breaking through, but I’m not there yet to the point where I can say, “Forget YouTube.” I’ll never stop YouTube, but eventually, I would like to slow down because it takes so much focus to have to post a beat every two days. You gotta stay on it, though. And right now, I got one foot in and one foot out. I’m almost there. People are starting to know me more.
Lucas told me you think about the algorithm and not losing your place?
You can stop for a second or slow down for a week, and someone takes your place. I seen it happen too many times. It’s scary. Man, you can be going so crazy on YouTube, you slow down, and then they’re on to the next person, you feel me? That’s how it is.
So it’s competitive?
Yeah, it’s a competition. I don’t compete with anybody. I want everybody to win. At the same time, it is a competition ’cause, everybody is trying to get people to view their video. They’re not personally saying, “I want to knock TnT off,” but, at the same time, one producer can come up ’cause you slacking. Now they’re rocking with their NBA YoungBoy type beats [and] you fighting to get back to that spot, but it’s hard.
It wasn’t long ago that “Type Beat” producers weren’t seen as real producers.
I mean, it really got like that a couple months ago. Artists would be like, “I don’t want a YouTube beat” or, “So many people rapped on it, they’re not real producers.” Then they started seeing YoungBoy on this beat, and it was just on YouTube. Or Quando on this beat. Even Pop Smoke. I got a song with him over a YouTube beat that never dropped. I don’t know if it ever will.
When do you know a rapper rapped over one of your beats?
It all depends. One of the main artists that I’ll get the song back from is NLE Choppa. He’ll record a song and send it back to me that night. I got about 20 songs with him on my phone. But, with other artists, I might not know until the label reaches out. The artist will rarely reach out and say they got a beat. I never talked to JayDaYoungan. I never talked to Yungeen Ace. I would say 90% of the artists I work with I haven’t spoken to.
What’s your placement with Young Thug?
It never dropped. It was a song called “Hendrix” featuring NBA YoungBoy. I saw the video. The situation was, NBA OG 3Three, who is YoungBoy’s homeboy, I used to send beats to him. I sent a beat to him one night, and he texted me, “Bro, I sent this beat to YoungBoy, and Young Thug got on it. I saw them shoot the video.” I end up going to APG a month later in LA. I met up with Eli, and he showed me the video, but he said, “Bro, they never gonna drop it.”
YoungBoy ended up going to jail. He wanted to reshoot a scene. But by the time he got out of jail, they were kind of like, whatever. It was old news.
You can’t get too hype about a song dropping.
I’m a human; I get excited. When I see a placement, I get excited. But I don’t set myself up. I know until that paperwork is done, nothing is guaranteed. Even after the paperwork, sometimes, it’s still situations where you’ll see the paperwork, and it won’t drop.
Everything you’ve done feels like a natural progression. You haven’t forced anything.
I just try to let stuff happen. I only control what I can control. I try not to force anything because what’s meant for you and what you work for is going to come for you. I try to worry about the things I can control. I don’t want to force anything. I should be one of the biggest, but I know when it’s meant for me, it’s going to come.