Life After Fame

by: Quando Rondo

Savannah, Georgia rap phenom Quando Rondo's success seemed almost pre-ordained. Just 19 years old when his first mixtape arrived, the knowingly titled Life B4 Fame was an immediate breakthrough, exposing millions of new fans to Quando's introspective lyrics and hard flows that loosely concealed R&B melodicism. Just five months after Life B4 Fame, the rapper signed with high-profile Atlantic subsidiary Never Broke Again and returned with second mixtape Life After Fame. While five months is a relatively short span of time, Quando sounds like he's been through a transformation. His style hasn't changed too much -- he's still delivering intense flows with traces of wistful R&B in his rap-singing and beats that often lean on snippets of forlorn piano. More than a switch up in styles, the lyrical content on Life After Fame finds Quando grappling with just that -- fake friends, opportunists, fans' overwhelming expectations, and feeling like a star almost overnight. Standout tracks are plentiful right out of the gate with the hungry autobiographical track "Baac to the Basics" leading into the enormous JayDa Youngan collaboration "Thuggin' for Real." The captivating "Rich Homie Quando" features Rich Homie Quan trading verses with Quando about their journeys to the top. Dense production makes for more interesting beats, adding layers of complexity and a sense of searching to Quando's non-stop bars. Though his style doesn't sound directly influenced by the greats, the meeting of passionate lyrical styles and rich production recalls the urgent spirit of late-'90s rap. Life After Fame pushes beyond cookie-cutter beats and thoughtless vaunting, putting Quando Rondo in place to join the lineage of rappers who aren't just famous but exceptional. ~ Fred Thomas

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