Fairly or unfairly, hip-hop fans have come to associate the music of Rod Wave with sadness. His catalog contains plenty of it, but the man who has “Hard Times” tattooed across his forearms sounds less sad on his fourth studio album Beautiful Mind than he does contented and hopeful about the future. There are love songs on the project—and not just ones lamenting relationships gone cold or unrequited devotion. He’s got those, too—“Never Get Over Me,” “Sweet Little Lies,” “Everything”—but we meet Wave the hopeless romantic on tracks like “Forever,” “Never Find Us,” “Pieces,” and “Married Next Year.” He’s even made time for his friend December Joy to showcase his own lothario chops on “Quiet Storm.” If there’s anything troubling Wave across Beautiful Mind, it’s his relationship with fame and what his increasing star status means for his peace of mind and safety. He’ll never again have to worry about where his next meal comes from or even about having the ability to help out his loved ones, but his life has changed significantly since “Heart on Ice,” and with great power, naturally, comes extra security. “I’m tryna ball, these n***as tryna take my life,” he sings on “No Deal.” He sings of the fleeting nature of fame on “Fading” and how his grind can’t be stopped on “Keep Going,” but it’s a couplet from “Me vs. the World” that fully distills the pressures of his influence. “It ain’t easy being me/Will I see the penitentiary or will I stay free?” he wonders. “It ain’t easy having fans/Will I see, will I see my next birthday or will I see the grave?” Some fears you just can’t let go of.